SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS) & SAFE SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of SIDS is to place healthy infants on their backs when putting them down to sleep at nighttime or naptime. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended all babies should be placed on their backs to sleep in 1992, deaths from SIDS have declined dramatically. Sleep-related deaths from other causes, however, including suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have increased. The AAP is providing recommendations on a safe sleeping environment that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS. Always keep the following points in mind for your infant. Be sure to share these important recommendations with babysitters, grandparents and other caregivers.

  • Always place your baby on his back for every sleep time – nighttime and naptime.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows and blankets. Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.
  • Devices designed to maintain sleep position or to reduce the risk of rebreathing such as wedges and positioners are not recommended since many have not been tested sufficiently for safety.
  • Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care. Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth and do not allow others to smoke around your infant.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Consider using a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. For breastfeeding infants, delay pacifier introduction until the baby is 1 month old to establish breastfeeding. For all babies offer a pacifier when putting down to sleep. Do not force a baby to take a pacifier. If the pacifier falls out of the baby’s mouth, do not put it back into the mouth. Do not put any sweet solution on the pacifier. Pacifiers should be cleaned and checked often and replaced regularly.
  • Keep your baby’s head and face uncovered during sleep. Use sleep clothing with no other covering over the baby.
  • Don’t let your baby become overheated during sleep. Keep the temperature so it feels comfortable for an adult. Dress your baby in as much or little clothing as you would wear.
  • Schedule and go to all well-baby visits. Infants should be immunized. Evidence suggests that immunization reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to help with baby’s head, shoulder and muscle development and minimize the occurrence of your baby’s head becoming flat.

Back to Sleep campaign sponsors include:

  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • Maternal and Child Health Bureau
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • SIDS Alliance/First Candle
  • Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs

Updated information from AAP news release October 18, 2011 AAP expands guidelines for infant sleep safety and SIDS risk reduction.