October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. It’s sometimes called crib death because the baby often dies in his crib. Unfortunately, each year there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among babies in the U.S. All this sounds scary, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS in your baby.
Keeping your baby safe
The best place for your baby to sleep is in a bassinet or crib. If you have multiples (twins, triplets or more), put each baby in their own bassinet or crib. Putting your baby to sleep safely can help provide protection from dangers, like choking and suffocation (not being able to breathe). Here’s what else you can do to make sure your baby is sleeping in a safe place:
- Place your baby on her back at all sleep times. This includes naps and at night. Babies should put to sleep on their back until they are 1 year old.
- Put your baby to sleep on a flat, firm surface, like on a crib mattress covered with a tight fitted sheet (NOT on soft surfaces or in a carrier, sling, car seat or stroller).
- Don’t use sleep positioners (pillows) to help keep your baby from moving.
- Give your baby a pacifier. If you’re breastfeeding, wait until your baby’s used to breastfeeding (3 to 4 weeks) before giving a pacifier.
- Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Don’t let your baby get too hot. A blanket sleeper (a kind of clothing just for sleeping) is OK to use and can help keep your baby warm without covering your baby’s face or head.
- Remove any bedding, bumpers, mobile, toys, blankets or other soft objects from the crib or bassinet.
- Share a room with your baby, but not the same bed.
Other caregivers should practice safe sleep too
One thing that’s important to remember is that even though you may know about how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby, other people may not. Anyone else who may take care of your baby should be made aware of the importance of safe sleep.
Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about keeping your baby safe.