Posts Tagged ‘SIDS’

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

cropped sleeping babyEvery so often, we hear a tragic story from a new parent. Last week, a three week old baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This post is in memory of that baby, and our hearts go out to the family.

It is important for parents and caregivers to know safe sleep strategies. Please help us get the word out: ALWAYS, put your baby to sleep on her back, in a crib without bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys or loose bedding.

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play is an easy way to remember that all healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs every time until their first birthday. Do not put your baby to sleep on her side, either. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month, but always start them out going to sleep on their backs. You can give your baby tummy time to help strengthen her back muscles when she is awake and you are watching her.

About 3,500 infants (less than one year of age) die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States, according to the CDC. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old. We don’t know what causes SIDS, but certain things can put babies at higher risk:

  • Bed sharing – do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Sleeping in the same room is suggested, just not the same bed. Bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in babies under 4 months of age.
  • Sofa or couch sleeping – do not let your baby sleep on the couch or soft surfaces, including pillows. Nearly 13 percent of infant sleeping deaths are sofa-related.
  • Wearing too many clothes or sleeping in a room that is too hot.
  • Sleeping on her tummy or side.

Read more about safe sleep, mom and baby care and other tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

If you have questions about putting your baby to sleep, send them to or ask your baby’s health care provider.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby due to SIDS or an unknown reason, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center offers bereavement packets to families. Just email us with your mailing address and we will send one to you.

See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.


Updated Sept. 2015

Safe sleep for babies

Friday, October 24th, 2014

cropped sleeping babySafe sleep can help protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related dangers, like suffocation (not being able to breathe). Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, so it’s important to make sure that where and how they sleep are safe.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your baby safe when she sleeps:

Where to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat, firm surface—a crib is best. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib. The mattress should fit snugly in the crib so there are no spaces between the mattress and the crib frame.
• Keep crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys and other soft objects out of your baby’s crib. They put babies in danger of getting trapped, strangled or suffocating. This is important even as your baby gets older. A study recently published in Pediatrics showed that “rolling to prone [stomach], with objects in the sleep area, is the predominant risk factor for older infants.”
• Share your bedroom with your baby but not your bed. Co-sleeping means that babies and parents sleep together in the same bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that babies should not co-sleep with their parents and studies have shown that bed-sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in children under four months. Instead, put your baby to bed in her own crib and keep it close to your bed during the night. This will allow you keep an eye on your baby and to breastfeed her easily.
• Don’t put your baby to sleep on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other soft surface. “Of nearly 8,000 infant sleeping deaths in the United States, researchers found that about 12 percent were sofa-related. And nearly three-quarters of those infants were newborns.”

How to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back every time, until she’s 1 year old. It’s not safe for babies to sleep on their side or tummy. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month; but start them out on their backs.
• Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you. If your baby is sweating or her chest feels hot, she may be overheated.
• Give your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime. Pacifiers may help protect against SIDS. Don’t hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing or a stuffed animal.
• Don’t use products, such as special mattresses or wedges, that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that they do.

Mom and baby care
• Feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Continue breastfeeding your baby until at least her first birthday.
• Don’t smoke and don’t let anyone smoke in your home or around your baby.
• Take your baby to all her well baby visits and make sure she gets her vaccinations on time.
• Give your baby tummy time every day. Tummy time helps your baby develop her neck, shoulder and arm muscles.

Have questions? Email us at

Breastfeeding myths debunked – part 2

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

mom breastfeeding1. Your baby needs water too.

False: Supplementing with water is not recommended for babies. Breast milk or formula contains all the water a baby needs and will keep your baby hydrated even in hot, dry climates.

2. You don’t produce enough milk.

Often False: The amount of milk you produce depends on a number of factors, including how often you feed and how your baby sucks at the breast. You can check if your baby is getting enough to eat by the amount of wet or soiled diapers in a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics tells moms to “expect 3-5 urines and 3-4 stools per day by 3-5 days of age; 4-6 urines and 3-6 stools per 5-7 days of age.” Your baby’s health care provider will check if your baby is gaining weight at his well-baby visits.

3. Breastfeeding is easy

False: Breastfeeding can be very challenging. Many moms face sore, cracked and bleeding nipples. It can hurt when you try to feed your baby. It’s important that when you start to feel pain or discomfort you seek help from a lactation counselor or support group. Many times the soreness can be relieved if the latch or position is changed. Some moms are able to breastfeed right away and others experience discomfort for months. Breastfeeding is learning a new skill; it takes lots of practice, time and patience.

4. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS

True: Breastfeeding can reduce the risks associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Continue breastfeeding your baby until at least her first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Breastfeed as much and as long as you can. Studies show that breastfeeding your baby can help reduce the risk of SIDS.”

5. My baby should always breastfeed from both breasts

Not always true: Babies, especially newborns may have periods of preferring only one breast. Your baby may cry, become fussy or refuse to feed on one breast. If your baby is getting enough milk and you are not having any other trouble, it is fine for your baby to feed from only one breast. If you are having problems with your milk supply, or experience engorgement or pain, there are tips to get your baby back on both breasts.  For example try starting your baby on the preferred breast, and then slide him over to other side without changing the position of his body. To learn more, ask a lactation specialist.

Did you have an assumption about breastfeeding that was false? Or did someone give you advice that helped? We’d love to hear from you.

Check out the first 5 breastfeeding myths from last week.

Back sleeping and flat head syndrome

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The Back to Sleep Campaign was launched in the early 1990s to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending placing babies on their backs when putting them to bed, the number of cases of SIDS has been cut in half, according to the CDC. That’s wonderful!

But something that has increased since then is the number of cases of babies with flat head syndrome, sometimes referred to as positional plagiocephaly. If babies spend all of their time on their backs, it can lead to positional flattening or molding of the head. The good news is that a new report published in the journal Pediatrics, has been written to help guide pediatricians in recognizing, managing and even preventing skull deformities in otherwise healthy children.

Babies’ skulls are soft and are made up of several skull plates. These movable plates have space between them, called sutures, that allow the head to be flexible so that the brain can grow. If the head is left in the same position for long periods of time, the plates move in a way that leaves a flat spot.
Most cases of positional plagiocephaly can be prevented (and sometimes corrected) by repositioning, which relieves pressure from the back of an infant’s head. Techniques for repositioning include:
– Making sure your baby gets more tummy time
– Changing the direction your baby lies in her crib from one week to the next.
– Changing the location of the crib in your baby’s room so that she will turn her head to look in other directions.
– Avoiding too much time in carriers, car seats and bouncers while your baby is awake
– Getting “cuddle time” with your baby by holding her upright over your shoulder several times a day.

More severe cases of positional plagiocephaly can be corrected by having the baby wear a custom helmet or band for two to four months. Be sure to chat with your baby’s provider about head shape at each well-child checkup.

Keep your baby safe when she sleeps

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

baby-sleepingI love watching my little girl sleep in her crib! She looks like an angel, all peaceful and quiet – nothing like the silly, giggly goose she is when she’s awake.

When we first set her crib up and laid out all the crib bedding, I couldn’t wait to see how it would brighten up her room. But I wasn’t quite sure about the bumper. It looked so cute, but was it safe?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has new sleep safety guidelines for baby and now says a big fat NO to crib bumpers.  The AAP says loose bedding, like crib bumpers, and soft objects, like stuffed animals or pillows, put babies at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation and strangulation.

The AAP guidelines highlight other ways to reduce the risk of SIDS, like:
Put your baby to sleep on her back.
• Use a firm crib mattress.
• Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib.
• Have your baby sleep in her crib in your room.
• Offer your baby a pacifier at night and during nap times.
• Avoid overheating your baby. Overbundling or using too many layers can overheat your baby.
Breastfeed. Breastfeeding has shown to lessen the risk of SIDS.
• Don’t smoke, use drugs or drink alcohol.

Breastfeeding – protection against SIDS

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

breastfeeding37468747_thmA new study just published in the journal Pediatrics reports that breastfeeding your baby is protective against SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. The study states that breastfeeding’s protective benefits apply regardless of the extent and length of time a baby is breastfed, although the longer the time the greater the benefit.

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old. It is particularly worrying because it can occur without warning in a baby who seems healthy. While most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old, it is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year old.

Dr. Fern Hauck and her colleagues from the University of VA School of Medicine reviewed over 280 studies of breastfeeding and SIDS that had been conducted over a 43 year period of time.  They focused on 18 studies that met their specific criteria. Their analysis showed that breastfeeding is protective against SIDS, and this effect is stronger when babies are exclusively breastfed.  Infants who had received any breastmilk for any amount of time had their risk factor reduced by 60 percent. If the infants had been breastfed up to the age of two months or older, their risk was 62% lower. In infants who had been exclusively fed breastmilk, the researchers saw the greatest reduction – their risk was 73% lower.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed only breast milk (no water, formula, other liquids or solids) for about the first 6 months of life. Women should continue to breastfeed their babies for the next six months while solid foods are introduced. They can continue breastfeeding after 12 months as long as mother and baby desire.

You can read more about reducing the risk of SIDS at this link.

Back vs. tummy time

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

tummy-timeAlmost all of us have heard about the Back to Sleep campaign to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the sudden, unexplained death of an infant under one year old.   Babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs, but “tummy time” is important, too. Babies still need to develop their neck, shoulder and arm muscles. The best way to help your newborn build her muscles is to give her some tummy time while she’s awake and being watched. Never leave your baby alone during tummy time. When the baby gets tired, place the baby on her back to sleep.

I read an interesting article in The New York Times yesterday about tummy time and its importance.  What really caught my eye were the comments left after the article.  While most parents are aware of the Back to Sleep recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the success rate of reducing SIDS, a number of parents said they didn’t agree with it and put their babies to sleep on their stomachs.  I was stunned.  You know what we think.  What do you think?

Infant sleep positioners – not a safe idea

Friday, October 1st, 2010

infant-sleep-positionerThe FDA published a warning this week on the suffocation risks associated with infant sleep positioners.  Sleep positioners are intended to keep a baby, usually younger than 6 months old, in a desired position.  The danger arises when the baby rolls or moves into another position.

Positioners are usually made of a flat mat with bolsters on either side and wedges to raise the baby’s head.  Some manufacturers have advertised that their product helps prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or flat head syndrome.  Although in the past the FDA has approved a few of these products to help with GERD or flat head syndrome, new information suggests that these products pose a risk of suffocation.

As a result of the new information, the FDA is requiring companies that produce the FDA-approved positioners to supply data that proves their product’s benefits outweigh the risks.  The FDA also is requesting that these companies stop marketing their positioners while the FDA reviews the data.  (Manufacturers who are making medical claims without FDA clearance must stop making their positioneers immediately.)

The FDA’s current position is that there is no scientifically sound evidence to support the medical claims of the manufacturers of infant sleep positioners.

Breastfeeding and pacifier usage – better than you think

Monday, May 11th, 2009

baby-with-pacifierFor many years there has been concern by some moms that using a pacifier would interfere with optimal breastfeeding.  A recent study by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that using a pacifier is just fine for breastfed infants.  There is no link to any interference with the best possibe breastfeeding experience, as long as breastfeeding is well established (three to four weeks) before a pacifier is introduced.

The researchers reviewed 29 studies from 12 countries that looked at pacifiers and breastfeeding.  There was no difference in the quality of the breastfeeding experience for the infant.  They did find that women whose babies used a pacifier seemed to stop breastfeeding earlier than other women, but it did not appear that the pacifiers were the reason.

An added benefit to pacifiers:   Over the past few years researchers have found evidence that babies who use pacifiers when they sleep may be less susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS. Because of this finding, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that pacifiers be used when babies are put down to sleep.  Regardless of the protection against SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend weaning children from pacifiers in the second six months of life to help prevent otitis media, an inflammation of the middle ear.

A new twist on SIDS prevention

Friday, February 20th, 2009

A recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (October 2008) reported that using a fan in your baby’s room can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by more than 70 per cent.  Fan use in warmer room temperatures had a greater reduction of risk than in cooler rooms.  Fan use also reduced risks for babies who were not using pacifiers, but it did not apply to babies who were using pacifiers.  It may be that keeping the air moving my prevent carbon dioxide from pooling around a sleeping baby.

UPDATE:  The American Academy of Pediatrics does not yet recommend that parents use a fan.  We need more research to be done before we know if fans really can help reduce the risk of SIDS.  In the meantime, fans placed in a safe location aren’t likely to cause any harm.  Talk to your child’s health care provider about it for more info.