Tips to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

October 30, 2018 Elizabeth Meade, MD

While Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is rare, it is a source of worry for many parents.

While Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is rare, it is a source of worry for many parents. In 2016, there were about 1,500 deaths due to SIDS, but rates have declined from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 38.0 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016. We don't know exactly what causes SIDS, but we do know some ways to reduce the risk.

  • Always placing your baby to sleep on his or her back is the number one way we have to prevent SIDS. You don’t need to flip your baby over once he/she is old enough to roll over!
  • When it comes to baby's sleep environments, boring is best! No crib bumpers, loose blankets, or stuffed animals—just a firm mattress and a fitted sheet.
  • Sleeping in the same room with baby is recommended at least for the first 6-12 months, but letting them have their own sleep area like a crib or bassinet is safest rather than letting them sleep in the bed with you. Sleep deprivation is powerful, and ensuring your infant has a safe, separate place to sleep is recommended.
  • Not smoking is another huge way to decrease the risk of SIDS! We know that baby's whose parents smoke (especially mom) are at higher risk of dying from SIDS.

Finally, I get tons of questions about pacifier use. We do think that using a pacifier at nap time or bedtime for young infants helps reduce SIDS risk. If you are breastfeeding, I recommend waiting until that's going well (usually a couple of weeks) and then starting to use a pacifier when baby is sleeping.

Most importantly, parents should know that SIDS is rare but that there are multiple things you can do to protect your little one. Talk with your pediatrician or family doctor if you have any questions or want to know more!

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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