I have started and re started this post and although I have been interrupted a million times I am determined to share this important information.
I summarized two great articles about the basics of safe sleep and prevention of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The first is Recommendation for a Safe Sleep Environment by the American Academy of Pediatrics from October 2016. The second article was by by the Safe Sleep for Babies by the Canadian Association of Paediatrics. I used this information to compile the following list of information.
As parents SIDS is a scary thought and it’s heartbreaking to even think of. As a sleep child consultant I feel my role is to educate the public on safe sleep. Reducing your risk factors will add to your child's safety and your peace of mind while they are sleeping.
Babies should always sleep on their backs until the age of 1 year old. Once they start moving please let them sleep as they are but alway put them down on their backs.
Room Sharing - allowing your child to be close for easy feedings, changing and the feeling of closeness up to 6 months to 1 year of age.
Alone - Always place your child to sleep alone in an approved crib. The crib should include only your baby.
A firm approved mattress is also recommended. A soft mattress could develop indentations that could be problematic to your child's health if they get trapped.
The mattress should be covered with a well fitting sheet (ideally a fitted sheet) and there should be nothing else in the crib. This means NO bumpers, pillows, blankets, toys, stuffed animals or anything else that might suffocate, entrap or strangle the child.A wearable blanket is perfect for keeping your child warm as it reduces the risk of covering the baby’s head or causing entrapment.
Keep the bedroom dark. You might only have a nightlight for you to see by. Room darkening curtains are very helpful to create this environment.
Keep the room cool (18-20 celsius or 68-72 fahrenheit) and be careful not to overheat your child. Signs of overheating including sweating and/or the child’s chest feels hot to touch. If your child falls asleep when you are out please also be careful using carseat and stroller covers as these can reduce airflow and increase the risk of overheating.
Avoid exposure to smoke or secondhand smoke during pregnancy and postpartum. Avoid drinking alcohol and using illicit drugs. It is especially important to not consume alcohol or drugs prior to bed sharing, as any impairment of the adult greatly increases the risk of SIDS.
Breastfeeding is recommended in reducing SIDS risk. This isn’t to say that bottle feeding is dangerous. I always say fed is best whatever the method. I have a formula fed and breastfed baby so fully understand both sides.
Using a soother has also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. This includes when a baby is sleeping and the pacifier falls out. A pacifier should not be attached to a string or your child or propped to stay in your child's mouth as any of these can increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation. If your child will not take a soother early on try again when your child is a little older. It is recommended to wait until breastfeeding is established before introducing a soother. Evidence is insufficient on the effects of thumbsucking and the reduction of SIDS.
Consistent prenatal care is an essential component of having a healthy baby as well as regular medical checks with your health care practitioner.
Immunize your child as per the guidelines. This also reduces the chance of SIDS as many of these visits also include health checks and information on the well being of your baby.
Skin to skin contact is also important to relax the baby before putting them in the crib. I often did this in the morning when we woke up. It used to be my favourite time of day. Those moments were so special. But if you are about to fall asleep please place your baby in their crib. Another risk for SIDS are children sleeping on sleeping parents chests on chairs and couches.
Here’s to safe sleep for you and your family.