If you're a new parent or a parent-to-be, you're likely aware of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). SIDS is the unexplained death of an infant less than 1 year of age, and while the causes may be unknown, there are steps you can take to reduce your baby's risk.
Anna Wani, M.D., family physician with an emphasis in sleep medicine at Children's Health℠ and assistant professor at UT Southwestern, points out that SIDS prevention starts even before conception. "I recommend moms-to-be have regular check-ups with their obstetricians, engage in healthy lifestyle choices, and don't use substances such as drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Once your baby is born, I encourage new moms to breastfeed. Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of SIDS."
How does room sharing reduce SIDS risk?
In October 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their safe sleep guidelines to recommend room sharing with parents for baby's first year of life. Room sharing – babies sleeping on their own safe sleep surface in the same room as the parents – reduces SIDS risk and promotes exclusive breastfeeding.
Having your baby share your room – but not your bed – for at least the first six months, if not up to a year, is ideal. This allows you to monitor baby's breathing during sleep and promotes ease of breastfeeding. "It's OK to bring your baby into bed to breastfeed, but you should put your baby back on its own sleep surface directly afterwards," Dr. Wani says. "As a precaution, when you bring your baby into your bed to breastfeed, make sure there isn't any loose bedding around your baby. This is to prevent suffocation in case mom falls asleep while breastfeeding and baby is still in the parents' bed."
Tips to prevent SIDS
The AAP recommends using one of these four approved safe sleep surfaces in your room for baby:
- Bed-side bassinet
- Play pen (pack 'n play)
- Sidecar co-sleeper (attaches to your bed)
The AAP advises against using inclined sleepers, or any products for sleep that require a baby to be restrained. This includes a popular "Rock 'n Play" sleeper, which has recently been tied to sleep-related infant deaths.
"Your baby should sleep on a firm sleep surface approved by American consumer guidelines. You should avoid seated positioners, such as letting your baby sleep in a car seat or stroller," says Dr. Wani. If your baby falls asleep in a seated positioner, this can inhibit normal breathing.
Another contributing factor to SIDS-related deaths is overheating. Avoid putting blankets down on the crib mattress, or dressing your baby too warmly for bed. Do not use crib bumpers, as they are not safe for baby.
"For every nap and every sleep, I recommend the ABC's of safe sleep; Alone, Back and Crib should be practiced to ensure the safety of baby," says Dr. Wani. "During wake and play, allow for supervised tummy time to help promote development."
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The highly experienced specialists at Children's Health can answer any other questions you may have about safe sleep and reducing your baby's SIDS risk. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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