To all the mothers out there!
We keep our precious little ones in our bellies for over 9 months, and wish the very best for them right from the start. We eat right, endure pain, and would truly give our lives for them from that point forward.
It is for these and countless other reasons, that it only makes sense to be extra careful for the first year of their life.
This is why we must do everything within our control to prevent SIDS.
What is SIDS?
According to Mayo Clinic…
The causes are unknown, but it appears that SIDS may be related to defects in the portion of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.
Researchers have discovered some factors that might put babies at extra risk and there are precautions that parents can take to reduce these risks.
That’s what we are going to talk about today.
What Can I Do to Prevent SIDS?
I was so nervous when I heard about SIDS, but after considerable research and talking to our Pediatrician, my nerves settled.
Here is a list of simple ways that I adopted to prevent SIDS in the first year of baby’s life.
#1: Put the baby on back to Sleep!
Putting the baby to sleep on her back considerably reduces the risk of SIDS.
If you notice the baby is sleeping on his tummy during the 1st year, especially within the first 6 months, gently turn him on his back. It may be a small nuisance for the baby, but trust me – this will go a long way to ensure your little one’s safety. This is what we did. We swaddled the boys for the first 3 months, and as you can imagine it is extremely difficult for the baby to turn on his belly in a swaddle!
Parents need to be very careful and ensure that baby is sleeping on his back in the first few months.
It may be wise to use a bassinet in the first few months for following reasons…
- They are typically smaller than cribs and some are small enough to prevent baby from turning. I work in risk management and this is what I would call good control against a risk (SIDS).
- A bassinet is lightweight and easy to move around in the room.
#2: Separate bassinet/Crib for the baby
We kept our boys in our room until they turned about one.
We used a separate bassinet for the first 6 months and later a crib.
The bassinet and crib were directly touching our Bed.
This ensured that we were directly staring at our babies the moment we turned over.
The choice between bassinet vs. crib and respective time duration is matter of preference, but the following is my recommendation:
- Small Bassinet for first 3-6 months. Bassinet should be close to bed or in your sight.
- Crib from 6 months onward. Baby can sleep in nursery between 6 to 12 months. This will help with teaching them to sleep on their own and in their own room.
During the first year, I also switched the bed positions with by husband so that I could catch some sleep for a few hours straight. This ensured that when he was tossing and turning, he was watching the baby.
My advice – leverage your support system! My husband is a great dad and helped me tremendously and my mom was a big help too.
#3: firm mattress and fitted sheet in crib
It may be tempting to keep bumpers, blankets, and soft toys in the crib but we stuck to these rules.
- Bassinet / crib should have a firm base
- NOTHING in crib except a firm mattress and fitted sheet.
- There should be minimum to no gap between the mattress and crib.
- Mattress needs to be compliant with CPSC safety standards
#4: optimal temperature and comfy atmosphere
Here are a few things to consider…
Optimal Temperature to avoid SIDS:
Overheating increases risk of SIDS. We kept ours, and later the boys’ room temperature at 69 F.
This means that initially, we (Parents) were using extra clothes and socks but we got used to it over time.
Many experts recommend that temperature in the room should be kept between 68-72 F.
As the recommended temperature is slightly lower than we are used to, it’s only natural to think that wrapping the baby in many layers is actually good for the baby.
It’s not and it increases the risk of overheating. One layer of clothing with a swaddle would do just fine.
- DIM the lights in the room.
- If possible, add white noise.
There are a lot of reasonably priced machines that provide white noise.
#5: avoid smoking
This one was a slam-dunk. No one smoked in the household before the baby was born or after. There are hundreds of benefits of NOT smoking but the following are critical in terms of your baby’s overall health.
As per CDC:
- Secondhand smoke increases the risk for SIDS.
- Smoking by women during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS.
- Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are also at greater risk for SIDS
#6: less swaddling after 3 months
This is the time when baby starts holding his neck up and also learns to turn on his side.
Being tightly swaddled means baby may struggle to leverage her hands or body.
We considerably reduced swaddling after 3 months and completely stopped in month 4.
In general, I recommend following rules in regards to swaddling:
- Don’t swaddle too tight! This may make baby uncomfortable and cranky.
- Don’t use the swaddlers that can unravel and cover your baby’s face.
- Put your baby’s hands on her chest in a cross position, before swaddling.
Research shows that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS. I breastfed my boys until they turned around 1.
As per American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
- Study shows that breastfeeding reduced the risk of SIDS by ∼50% at all ages throughout infancy.
- In some, but not all, countries SIDS prevention campaigns include breastfeeding.
Don’t worry if your baby is formula fed though. If you follow the steps above (1-6), you have largely reduced the risk of non-hereditary SIDS.
We understand that it can be very painful to see your child in pain and keeping that in mind, we hope that this article helps you reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
If you believe we missed something – then, feel free to drop us a line here.