It’s scary to think that you could put your baby down for a nap and he might never wake up. But it happens more often than we would like. About 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States. The cause of death for many of these babies can’t be determined, but there are factors that can put your baby at higher risk.
October is Safe Infant Sleep Awareness Month in Idaho, so it’s a good time to learn the ABCs of Safe Infant Sleep. They are:
A for alone. Babies should sleep alone, not with adults who can roll onto them.
B for back. They should sleep on their backs without blankets, bedding or stuffed animals that could interfere with their breathing.
C for crib. They should sleep in a crib with a firm surface and in a cool room (70 degrees). If you’re worried about whether they are warm enough, keep them comfortable with clothing or put them in a sleep sack.
S for smoke-free. They should sleep in a smoke-free environment.
If you follow the ABCs of infant sleep, you will help reduce your infant’s risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which is defined as the sudden death of an infant younger than a year that can’t be explained even after a thorough investigation is done. It is the third leading cause of death for Idaho children younger than 1 year, and it’s the leading cause of death nationally for children younger than a year. There are many things we don’t know about SIDS, but there are some things we have learned, including:
- More boys die of SIDS than girls.
- All infants are more vulnerable during the second and third months of their lives.
- Breastfeeding for the first six months seems to lower the risk of SIDS.
- Sucking on a pacifier at bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS.
SIDS is unpredictable and strikes seemingly healthy babies without warning. That’s why the ABCs of infant sleep are so important. Putting your baby to bed in a safe sleep environment is critical. Some parents question whether babies on their back could choke on their spit-up or vomit, but they can rest assured. The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that there is no increased risk of choking for babies who sleep on their backs. In fact, since the organization recommended in 1992 that babies sleep on their backs, the rate of SIDS has dropped by more than 50 percent.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/sids/aboutsuidandsids.htm
- Kids Health: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sleep/sids.html