You want to give your baby everything, so start with a safe sleep area. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is the leading cause of death among infants. While this is a tragedy felt by thousands of families there are ways to help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
Babies younger than one, should always be placed to sleep on their backs, for naps and at night, on a firm and flat surface, like a safety-approved crib. And keep blankets, pillows, and other soft or loose items out of the crib when baby is in it. It also helps to put babies to sleep in a separate sleep area, next to where you sleep.
Don’t let Baby sleep in a stroller, car seat, baby seat or swing for a prolonged period of time.
Tell anyone who takes care of your baby how essential it is to lay your sleeping baby on their back each and every time. That includes grandparents, babysitters, older siblings, and others.
A combination of physical, sleep, and environmental factors can make infants more vulnerable to SIDS. These factors vary from child to child but can include:
Brain defects. Some infants are born with problems that make them more likely to die of SIDS. In many of these babies, the portion of the brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep hasn’t matured enough to work properly.
Low birth weight. Premature birth or being part of a multiple birth increases the likelihood that a baby’s brain hasn’t matured completely, so he or she has less control over such automatic processes as breathing and heart rate.
Respiratory infection. Many infants who died of SIDS had recently had a cold, which might contribute to breathing problems.
Sleeping on the stomach or side. Babies placed in these positions to sleep might have more difficulty breathing than those placed on their backs.
Sleeping on a soft surface. Lying face down on a fluffy comforter, a soft mattress or a waterbed can block an infant’s airway.
Sharing a bed. While the risk of SIDS is lowered if an infant sleeps in the same room as his or her parents, the risk increases if the baby sleeps in the same bed with parents, siblings or pets.
Overheating. Being too warm while sleeping can increase a baby’s risk of SIDS.