What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

This term describes the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year of age. Some people call SIDS "crib death" because many babies who die of SIDS are found in their cribs. But, cribs don't cause SIDS.

 
 

What should I know about SIDS? 

 
 
  • Babies sleep safer on their backs. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are much more likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their backs.
  • Sleep surface matters. Babies who sleep on or under soft bedding are more likely to die of SIDS.
  • Every sleep time counts. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS. So it's important for everyone who cares for your baby to use the back sleep position for naps and at night.
 
 

What can I do to lower my baby's risk of SIDS?

 
 
  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night. The back sleep position is the safest, and every sleep time counts.
  • Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved* crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet. Never place your baby to sleep on pillows, quilts, sheepskins, or other soft surfaces.
  • Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area. Don't use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, and pillow-like crib bumpers in your baby's sleep area, and keep any other items away from your baby's face.
  • Do not allow smoking around your baby. Don't smoke before or after the birth of your baby, and don't let others smoke around your baby.
  • Keep your baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep. Your baby should not sleep in a bed or on a couch or armchair with adults or other children, but he or she can sleep in the same room as you. If you bring the baby into bed with you to breastfeed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle, or a bedside co sleeper (infant bed that attaches to an adult bed) when finished.
  • Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep, but don't force the baby to take it. (If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until your child is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.)
  • Do not let your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing, and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. There is clear evidence that the risk of SIDS is associated with the amount of clothing or blankets on an infant and the room temperature. Infants who sleep in the prone position have a higher risk of overheating than do supine sleeping infants.
  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.
  • Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using monitors for other conditions talk to your health care provider.
  • Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby's head: provide "Tummy Time" when your baby is awake and someone is watching; change the direction that your baby lies in. Tummy time should begin as early as possible to promote motor development, facilitate development of the upper body muscles, and minimize the risk of positional plagiocephaly.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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