Keeping your baby safe is the most important job a parent has, and SIDS is a scary reality all parents must face. As you bring your new baby home, chances are you stared at your sleeping baby, wondering how if there is a way to reduce the chances of SIDS. Luckily, research gives us some several ways to prevent SIDS through countless hours of research.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
SIDS is an acronym for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and SIDS definition is any unexplained death that happens while a baby is asleep in his crib. Crib death is another name for SIDS. Researchers work diligently towards trying to understand what is sudden infant death syndrome and why it occurs. However, the answers are still not clear; no one knows for sure what causes SIDS.
Researchers believe that infants who die from SIDS have a brain abnormality or defects. Evidence suggests that these defects are within a system of nerve cells that send signals to other nerve cells, located in the area of the brain that controls your breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and waking from sleep. Unfortunately, doctors have no way to test for these abnormalities or other SIDS causes.
However, all of the research has helped to spur changes that have decreased the frequency. When we look at SIDS statistics, we see that there were around 1,500 deaths due to SIDS. While this number seems high, the rates have declined from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to only 38.0 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016.
When we look at how common is SIDS, the numbers show that SIDS is the third leading cause of infant mortality, however that doesn’t mean the risk is extremely high! The SIDS age range is the first year of a child’s life, however, the largest SIDS risk by age is the first four months of life. 90% of SIDS occurs before 6 months of age, and 72% take place in the first four months of life.
When doctors look at SIDS risk by age, evidence shows that it is less common after eight months of age, but parents should still practice baby safe sleeping practices to prevent any sleep-related death throughout the first year of life.
A few other SIDS facts include:
- Slightly more boys die of SIDS than girls.
- It seems as if SIDS deaths increase during the colder months of the year, but that number is slowly evening out.
- SIDS is not an infection. Infections are not believed to contribute to sudden infant death causes.
- SIDS can happen with no warning or symptoms.
- The diagnosis of SIDS only comes once all other causes of infant death are ruled out such as trauma or conditions related to the heart, lungs, or central nervous system.
The steep decline in SIDS is primarily due to understanding what safe sleep for babies is and SIDS risk factors. A number of factors increase the likelihood of SIDS.
- Stomach Sleeping: One of the largest risk factors is stomach sleeping. Doctors now know how to put a baby to sleep properly, and that means laying flat on their back. The reason why stomach sleeping increases the risks of SIDS isn’t known, but medical professionals believe it puts anatomical pressure on the airways.
- Poor Prenatal Care
- Mothers Younger than 20 Years Old
- Exposure to Cigarette Smoke
- Prenatal Exposure to Cigarette Smoke, Drugs, or Alcohol
- Prematurity or Low Birth Weight
Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Needs
You may feel exhausted, but your baby needs a lot of sleep. The exact answer isn’t one-size-fits-all, but doctors do have some recommendations based on infant age range as to how long your baby should sleep.
Many parents wonder how much do newborns sleep. A healthy newborn should spend most of a 24-hour day sleeping. Sleep time is when your baby grows the most. In general, your newborn should sleep a total of 14 to 17 hours in a 24-hour day. Those hours aren’t consecutive; most babies won’t sleep longer than two to four hours at a time. It’s easy to wonder how much should a newborn bay sleep because it's so unpredictable!
For other ages, the recommendations are:
- 1 month - 15.5 hours
- 3 months - 15 hours
- 6 months - 14 hours
- 9 months - 14 hours
- 1 year - 14 hours
Creating a Safe Sleeping Environment for Your Baby
Preventing SIDS starts first with creating a baby safe sleep environment. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a bassinet or a crib. Doctors suggest that multiples (twins and triplets) have their own bassinet or crib. The American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) offers tips for creating a safe place for your baby to sleep.
- Make sure you always use a bassinet or crib. Your baby needs to sleep on a separate surface that is flat and firm. Pick the best baby bassinet or crib that will keep your baby snug AND safe! Always make sure that you use a bassinet or crib that meets current safety standards, and NEVER use a crib with drop-side rails.
- Always use tightly fitted sheets. Use the mattress that is made for your baby’s crib. If there are any spaces between the mattress and the crib frame, it is NOT safe and you need to find a new solution!
- The new AAP sleep guidelines suggest that you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not the same bed, for at least the first 6 months, but ideally the first year of your child’s life. You can follow this recommendation by simply placing your child’s crib near your own bed!
- Never put any crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys, or other soft objects in your child’s crib. These objects, while cute, pose a risk of your baby getting trapped, strangled or suffocated. Your child should always sleep in an empty crib, even if it’s not cute.
- Remove hanging window cords or electrical wires near your baby’s sleeping area.
- Don’t allow your baby to sleep on a waterbed, couch, soft mattress, or other soft surfaces. This recommendation is particularly important when it comes to safe sleeping for newborns because it is easy to want to take a nap with your baby on the couch, but that is very unsafe. The AAP tells sleepy parents to feed the baby in your bed rather than a sofa. Make sure to remove pillows, blankets, or soft bedding in case you do fall asleep while feeding. If you do fall asleep, move baby as soon as you awake.
Preventing SIDS - Other Methods You Should Know
Aside from creating the right environment for your baby to sleep, the AAP safe sleep recommendations also tell us how to prevent SIDS with other methods!
- Most importantly for infant safety, always put your baby to sleep on his back every time until he is one year old. Sleeping on his side or stomach is not safe. However, if your child is old enough to roll over, don’t worry if he changes positions while sleeping. The safety issue comes when a parent decides a child should sleep on his stomach.
- Don’t dress your child too warmly. It’s easy to worry that your baby is too cold, but multiple layers of clothing can cause your baby to overheat. If your child is sweating or his chest feels cold, he may be overheated, which is one way a baby dies from SIDS.
- Use a pacifier for naps and bedtime! You may be worried about teeth issues, but a pacifier can protect against SIDS. Also, don’t worry if the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while he is asleep. Make sure you never use a pacifier attachment on your child’s clothing while they sleep!
- Don’t believe that products, such as wedges, reduce the risk of SIDS. No evidence supports those claims.
- Swaddling your baby is fine, but baby must always be placed on her back when swaddled. Make sure you don’t swaddle too tightly, which might make it too hard to breathe. If your child is able to roll over, it’s time to stop swaddling.
- Breastfeed your baby for at least six months. The AAP SIDS research shows that breastfeeding your child for six months and longer is a contributor to SIDS prevention.
- Learn how to get baby to sleep in a crib by creating a routine that makes bedtime easier. Safe sleeping for newborns can feel tricky because they just want to cuddle, and holding a sleeping baby feels wonderful! However, taking the time to create a routine such as giving your baby a warm bath, playing soft music, and reading a bedtime story can help lull your baby into sleep each night.
- Go to all well-child visits because your baby will receive crucial immunizations. Doctors believe that immunizations protect against SIDS.
- Avoid smoking. Evidence shows that exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful to babies, and smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS.
- Make sure your daycare follows AAP safe baby sleeping recommendations. One out of five SIDS deaths takes place when a baby is in daycare or being watched by someone other than the parent. Almost 20 percent of babies in daycare centers are placed on their belly for naps. Many states don’t have safe sleeping guidelines for licensed daycares. Make sure everyone who watches your child follows these recommendations!
Parents want to do everything they can do to encourage baby safe sleep, and Linen & Leah pack and play fitted sheets will keep your baby safe. Linen and Leah created the safest pack and play fitted sheet that secures to your pack and play mattress.
These play yard sheets are made from 100% organic cotton, which is incredibly breathable and uses adjustable Velcro straps to create the perfect tight fit. The sides have reinforced slits that allow the straps of the mattress to go through the sheets to attach to the base of a Graco pack and play.
Loose pack n play sheets pose a suffocation hazard to your baby; loose bedding is one of the causes of SIDS. The perfect pack and play sheet stay snug against the mattress, reducing the worry that any fabric will cover your child’s face. Remember to reduce SIDS, baby must have no loose articles in their sleeping area, as stated by the American Academy for Pediatrics.
Linen & Leah is an innovative company that is devoted to creating safe sleeping environments for newborns and beyond. We want to raise SIDS awareness. Our founder, Jen O’Malley, created our innovative product after becoming disappointed and frustrated with the current sheets on the market for playards. Jen is a mother of two with years of experience in the childcare industry. She often found Pack and Play sheets she was using were too loose fitting and unsafe. We are confident our product is the perfect Pack and Play sheet. Here’s why - our sheets fit securely to your mattress using a Velcro strap, they are breathable and made from 100% organic cotton. Here at Linen & Leah we want you to feel confident each and every time you put your little one down to sleep. We encourage you to learn more about our product we know you won’t be disappointed. We donate a portion of each purchase to the SIDS Foundation.