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Health and Fitness News

Safe Sleep for Baby

Reduce the risk of SIDS, so everyone sleeps well.

You put baby down for a nap, but now she won’t wake up. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

The tragedy of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) can’t be explained. Typically occurring in babies before their first birthday, SIDS always occurs while they’re asleep. While the cause is unknown, babies who were born prematurely or who are recovering from a respiratory infection may be more at risk. In some cases, it’s thought that the part of the brain that’s responsible for breathing and waking hasn’t fully developed.

Whatever the cause, it’s always heartbreaking. As a parent, you want to keep your baby safe and healthy. One way to do this is to practice safe sleep habits.

Back to Sleep

In years past, babies were placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep. For many babies, this seems a comfortable and soothing position. Unfortunately, sleeping on the stomach seems to be the greatest risk factor for SIDS. While sleeping on the stomach, baby may get smothered on the mattress.

Anytime you put baby to bed, place him on his back. If placed on his side, he may roll to his stomach. Going out for the night? Make sure babysitters and grandparents place baby on his back. The risk of SIDS is much greater when a baby gets used to sleeping on his back and is placed on his stomach.

As baby grows and learns to roll, he may choose to sleep on his stomach. Once he reaches this milestone, he should be out of the danger zone.

Firm Bedding

You may love a soft mattress. You may think your baby will too. But to protect against SIDS, your baby should always sleep on a firm mattress in a crib, cradle, or bassinet. Sleeping on a cushioned mattress, fluffy comforter, or waterbed makes your little one more likely to die of SIDS.

Only a Fitted Sheet

Gone are the days of matching bedding and crib decor for babies. The only thing a baby should have in her crib is a secured fitted sheet. This means no extra blankets, pillows, bumper pads, or stuffed animals. Yes, these items are cute. Some of them are special gifts from grandma. Unfortunately, these items all increase the likelihood of your baby suffocating. With that in mind, it’s just not worth it.

No Co-Sleeping

A key way to reduce baby’s risk of SIDS is to have her sleep in the same room as you. Just don’t share beds. Doing so ups the risk for SIDS. A baby should be alone in her crib, cradle, or bassinet. After holding or breastfeeding your baby in your bed, return her to her own bed to sleep. If you grow tired as you feed her, sit upright in a chair. Finish feeding, put baby to bed, and then get into your own bed.

Breastfeed Your Baby

Still figuring out if you want to breast or bottle feed? This may sway you toward breast. For some unknown reason, breastfed babies are 50 percent less likely to die of SIDS. Perhaps breast milk has a protective effect from infections. Or maybe it’s the skin-to-skin contact that’s good for their development. Regardless, the reduced risk is enough for many new mothers to make the choice to breastfeed.

Quit Smoking

Babies born to mothers who smoked while they were pregnant are at a great disadvantage for health and development. How big is the disadvantage? Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are three times more likely to die from SIDS. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for SIDS. So quit the habit, and keep your baby away from other people who smoke.