Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, as it is more commonly known is responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 babies a year in the United States alone. While the rate of SIDS decreases every single year, researchers are still baffled about its cause. SIDS usually occurs with infants who have not yet reached a year in age.
What is difficult about SIDS is that the specific cause of death remains unknown even after an autopsy has been performed and a baby’s medical history has been thoroughly researched. What makes SIDS so terrifying is how suddenly it hits. A baby can be put down for a nap or for his bedtime and simply stop breathing, without any sign of a struggle.
The parents will usually find their baby has stopped breathing the next morning or a few minutes later. Because SIDS is, as of yet, unexplained, parents will usually blame themselves for their child’s passing.
Because of the unknown cause of SIDS, it is extremely hard to completely prevent and eliminate SIDS. However, extensive research has shown that there are, fortunately, ways to help protect your baby and reduce the risk of a SIDS-related death.
- Many families will have a baby and then immediately start trying for another baby within the same year. Unfortunately, this can increase the risk of SIDS, so try to wait at least a year before trying for another baby after a recent pregnancy.
- When lying your baby down for a nap or sleep time, lie him down on his back. When a baby sleeps on his stomach or even on his side, the chance of SIDS is greatly increased. Also on that same note, if your baby sleeps in a crib, be sure to invest in a mattress that is firm. Soft sleeping surfaces have also been attributed to a risk of SIDS. Be sure that when your baby is sleeping, there is nothing around him like toys, blankets and pillows.
- Many new parents are afraid of their baby catching a chill while they are sleeping so they tend to wrap them up in a lot of clothes. Minimize the amount of clothes your baby sleeps in. As long as the temperature in the room you are sleeping in is comfortable for you and your partner, the temperature should be fine for your baby. Some studies have shown that babies that sleep in very warm temperatures have a higher chance of SIDS.
- If you can, breastfeed your baby, as opposed to using formula. The nutrients and natural antibodies in breast milk has been shown to help alleviate infections in the respiratory system and the gastrointestinal system.
- Some babies naturally have a higher risk of dying from SIDS, including babies who were born prematurely, babies who have sisters or brothers who passed away from SIDS and babies who are the second-born of a mother in her teens. If you baby fits one of these categories, invest in a monitor system known as an apnea monitor. These monitors detect the heart rate and breathing patterns of your baby. If either one of these starts to decrease, the monitor sends out an alert, so you can check on your baby.