This month is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Awareness Month and therefore we want to highlight the measures you can take to keep your baby safe from this devastating occurrence.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – sometimes known as ‘cot death’ – is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. This statistic may sound alarming, but SIDS is rare and the risk of your baby dying from it is low.
Most deaths happen during the first six months of a baby’s life. Infants born prematurely or with a low birthweight are at greater risk. SIDS also tends to be slightly more common in baby boys.
SIDS usually occurs when a baby is asleep, although it can occasionally happen while they’re awake.
What causes SIDS?
The exact cause of SIDS is unknown, but it’s thought to be down to a combination of factors.
Experts believe SIDS occurs at a particular stage in a baby’s development, and that it affects babies who are vulnerable to certain environmental stresses.
This vulnerability may be caused by being born prematurely or having a low birthweight, or because of other reasons not yet identified.
Environmental stresses could include tobacco smoke, getting tangled in bedding, a minor illness or a breathing obstruction. There’s also an association between co-sleeping (particularly sleeping with your baby on a soft bed, sofa or chair) and SIDS.
Babies who die of SIDS are thought to have problems in the way they respond to these stresses and how they regulate their heart rate, breathing and temperature.
Although the cause of SIDS isn’t fully understood, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk.
What can I do to help prevent SIDS?
Below is a list of Do’s and Don’ts you can do to help prevent SIDS.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep
- Place your baby in the “feet to foot” position (with their feet touching the end of the cot, Moses basket, or pram)
- You should use a special baby sleeping bag from the beginning instead of a blanket and your baby should wear light clothes inside the sleeping bag – a body stocking or light pyjamas are enough.
- Let your baby sleep in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months
- Use a mattress that’s firm, breathable and in good condition and do not place any plastic liners between the mattress and sheet
- If possible exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months
- If you choose to use a soother, wait until the baby is over 4 weeks old and breastfeeding is well established and give it to your baby every time it goes to sleep during the first year of life
- Smoke during pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby (both before and after birth)
- Sleep on a (soft) bed, sofa or armchair with your baby
- Share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke or take drugs, or if you’ve been drinking alcohol
- Let your baby get too hot or too cold; a room temperature of 16-20C, with light bedding or a lightweight baby sleeping bag, will provide a comfortable sleeping environment for your baby.
SIDS Precautions Test
We have put together a little self-test for you to answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge. Perhaps you will find some things you can change in order to reduce your baby‘s risk of SIDS.
- Which sleeping position is best for your child?
- Does anyone smoke in your home or in the presence of your baby?
- Where does your baby sleep and what is the room temperature?
- Do you breastfeed or plan to breastfeed your baby?
- What does your baby‘s cot look like?
- What does your baby wear for sleeping? How do you cover your baby?
- Does your baby take a soother or are you intending to give your baby a soother?
If you have any unanswered questions related to this topic then please consult your paediatrician.
Thank you MAM Cyprus for this informative article. For further information regarding SIDS check out their SIDS brochure on the MAM Baby website at https://www.mambaby.com/. For any other queries please contact them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MAMCyprus/.