No matter how many children you already have, if you’re welcoming a new member to your family, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a significant cause of death for babies under a year old. That’s a normal concern to have — but the good news is, there are things you can do to dramatically reduce the risk of SIDS.
As a top-rated pediatrics practice in Bel Air, Maryland, Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center provides comprehensive newborn care, including guidance and education for parents. In this post, our team offers seven simple things you can do to reduce your child’s risk of SIDS.
Until your baby turns a year old, you should always place them on their back to sleep at night and during naps, according to SIDS prevention guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Both stomach sleeping and side sleeping increase the risk of SIDS, especially in very young infants who can’t yet roll over on their own.
Studded animals are cute, and it can be tempting to tuck one or two — or more — into your child’s crib while they sleep. But stuffed animals pose a suffocation hazard, especially for very small babies who may not be able to change positions yet. For safety’s sake, reserve stuffed animals for play while your baby is awake.
Make sure the crib mattress is snug against all sides of the crib, and don’t use crib bumper pads, sheepskins, or other loose “sleeping aids” while your baby is in the crib for nighttime sleep or naps. A fitted sheet is the only material that should be in your baby’s crib while they’re sleeping.
The “security blanket” is a concept that’s ages old. While it’s fine for an older child to have a favorite blanket, like stuffed animals, blankets can block normal breathing in very young babies, and they also pose a strangulation hazard if your child gets tangled up in a blanket or sheet. Instead, dress your baby in comfy pajamas appropriate for the room’s temperature, and consider using a sleep sack for chilly environments.
Being close with your baby, especially when they’re young, can give you peace of mind and also allow for convenient nighttime feedings. However, ignore the desire to sleep side-by-side with your infant or to nurse while lying in bed with your infant at your side. Instead, keep a bassinet or crib in the same room and always nurse while in an upright position to avoid dozing off and rolling over on your baby.
Most parents-to-be know how important it is for moms to avoid smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, during pregnancy. But it’s also important to keep your baby away from smoke (and other fumes) while their lungs are developing. Not only can smoke increase the risk of respiratory infections, but it also increases the risk of SIDS.
Pacifiers are great for soothing babies at bedtime, but the National Institutes of Health says those little silicone “binkies” can also reduce the risk of SIDS. Give your baby a pacifier at both naptime and bedtime — just be sure it’s not tethered to a blanket, string, or other material that could pose a suffocation hazard.
Breastfeeding moms should wait until the breast habit is fully ingrained before introducing a pacifier. If you offer a pacifier before that time (typically about three months of age), it could be harder to get your baby to breastfeed.
Our team is skilled in helping moms and dads feel more confident about their parenting skills, working closely with each family to provide care and guidance tailored to each patient’s unique needs. To learn more about SIDS and other steps you can take to keep your baby healthy, call 410-504-6676 or request an appointment online at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center today.