While medical professionals and researchers are still not certain of the exact causes of SIDS, much more information about how it occurs and how to prevent it is now known. Here, the child education and development specialists at Celebree Learning Centers provide guidance on how to reduce your infant’s risk of SIDS.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is a condition that is still not fully understood by medical professionals and researchers. Some experts believe that it is caused by an immature arousal center in an infant’s brain—meaning that they are unable to wake themselves up when they have difficulty breathing, and ultimately die from a lack of oxygen.
The demographic at the most risk includes infants between the age of two and four months, but children up to a year of age are still at risk of SIDS. Boys are more likely to fall victim to SIDS then girls, and African American, Native American, preemie and low birthweight infants are more susceptible to SIDS as well. Infants who are exposed to cigarette smoke, either before or after birth, are also at a higher risk.
While the number of SIDS cases has dropped in the United States, about 2,500 infants still die from this condition every year. Fortunately, researchers have determined several ways to help prevent this terrible condition from occurring. Read below to learn more about how to reduce your child’s risk of SIDS.
Put Infants to Sleep on Their Back
The most common advice for reducing the risk of SIDS is to put infants to sleep on their back, and not their stomach. In 1994, a campaign known as Safe to Sleep was implemented, which strongly encouraged parents and guardians to put their infants to sleep on their backs. This caused the rate of SIDS to decrease dramatically, although it still remains a serious concern. Back-sleeping increases an infant’s access to fresh air, and also reduces their risk of becoming overheated—which is another risk factor for SIDS. Infants who normally sleep on their back are 18 times more likely to develop SIDS if they are then placed on their stomach—even for a short nap. Side-sleeping is also strongly discouraged, as it is easy for infants to roll onto their stomach from this position.
Do Not Cover Sleeping Infants with Blankets
Do not use a blanket with sleeping infants until they’ve reached one year of age. Instead, dress them in light layers, and if needed, allow them to sleep in a sleep sack. A loose blanket can cover an infant’s mouth or nose, causing SIDS to occur.
Make the Crib a Safe Space
Keeping toys, pillows, blankets or stuffed animals in an infant’s crib greatly increases their risk of becoming a victim of SIDS. Cribs should remain empty, besides a firm mattress that fits all the way to the edge of the crib. This prevents an infant’s head from getting stuck between the mattress and the crib. Make sure any sheets placed over the mattress fit tightly.
Give Infants a Pacifier at Night
Pacifiers can also help to reduce the risk of SIDS, as they prevent infants from falling into an extremely deep sleep, so they are better able to wake themselves if they cannot breathe. Infants should use pacifiers both at night and during naps until they are a year of age. If you are breastfeeding, you may want to wait to introduce a pacifier until your child is a month old and nursing well.
Do Not Co-Sleep
Co-sleeping is quite popular within the United States, but it is extraordinarily dangerous for infants, and greatly increases their risk of SIDS. Infants can become suffocated by a pillow, loose blanket, or even a parent if they roll over onto them inadvertently. They could also be strangled if they become trapped between the headboard and mattress. If you insist on co-sleeping with your infant, purchase a co-sleeping crib, which clamps on to the edge of the bed, and keeps your infant out of the bed itself—just make sure there is no space between the crib and the bed for an infant’s head to become trapped.
Choose a Learning Center that Keeps Your Infant Safe
Celebree Learning Centers wants your children to be safe and healthy, and this includes using smart sleeping practices to prevent the risk of SIDS. Our child education and development specialists are carefully screened and highly qualified to take care of children of all ages. For more information about our learning centers and programs, contact us today.