Placing your baby down to sleep can be comforting – or unsettling. Many parents worry about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) taking away their precious little bundle of joy. And since SIDS is the leading cause of death among children from birth up to 1 year old, the concern is understandable.
Although you can’t completely eliminate the risk of SIDS, there are precautions you can take to reduce the possibility. Since the mid 1990s, when a major education campaign was put in place to reduce practices that could contribute to SIDS, rates in the United States have decreased by 50 percent.
Follow these guidelines to help your baby sleep comfortably – and safely.
- Rather than putting baby in bed with you, place your baby’s crib or bassinet in your room.
- Remove from the crib any stuffed animals, blankets or anything with soft surfaces that could possibly block baby’s airway during sleep.
- Clip strings or ribbons off hanging mobiles and crib toys; keep any strings 6 inches or shorter.
- Provide a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.
- Dress your baby in flame retardant sleepwear or a sleep sack that is comfortable and appropriate for the room temperature. Your baby’s nightwear should not have any drawstrings.
- Do not put a blanket on the baby or in the crib.
- Lay your baby on his/her back.
- The crib should meet United States safety regulations. Avoid using older or borrowed cribs.
- The crib headboard and footboard should not have any large cutouts.
- No more than two fingers should fit between the mattress and the side of the crib.
- Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent your child’s head from getting caught between the bars.
- If the crib is near a window, remove pull cords or use cord shorteners on window dressings.
- The crib should not have bumper pads and/or positioning wedges.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help reduce your infant’s risk of SIDS. Find out more online at Sanford’s Health Library or talk to your child’s primary care provider.