10 Steps to Help Prevent SIDS
Keep Your Sleeping Baby Close, but Not in Your Bed
When a baby sleeps in the same room as mom, studies show it lowers the risk of SIDS. But it's dangerous for a baby to sleep with another child or an adult in the same bed, in an armchair, and on a couch.
If you bring your baby into your bed for comforting or breastfeeding, be sure to put the baby back in his own cradle, bassinet, crib, or co-sleeper (a crib-like bed that attaches to an adult bed) when you're ready to sleep.
Never bring the baby to bed with you when you're very tired or using medicines that affect your sleep.
Breastfeed as Long as You Can
Breastfeeding your baby can lower the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%, though experts aren't sure why. Some think breast milk may protect babies from infections that increase their SIDS risk. Do not drink alcohol if you breastfeed because that increases your baby’s risk of SIDS.
Immunize Your Baby
Evidence shows babies who’ve been immunized in accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have a 50% reduced risk of SIDS compared with babies who aren’t fully immunized.
Consider Using a Pacifier to Put Baby to Sleep
Putting your baby to sleep with a pacifier may also help prevent SIDS, though researchers aren't sure why. There are a few tips to follow when using a pacifier:
- If you're breastfeeding, wait until your baby is at least 1 month before starting to use a pacifier. Introducing a pacifier too soon can lead to nipple confusion and cause your baby to prefer the pacifier's nipple over your own.
- Don't force your baby to take the pacifier if he doesn't want it.
- Put the pacifier in your baby's mouth when you put him down to sleep, but don't put it back in his mouth after he falls asleep.
- Keep the pacifier clean, and buy a new one if the nipple is damaged.
- Don't coat the pacifier with honey, alcohol, or any other substance.
Keep Your Baby From Overheating
Because overheating may raise a baby's risk of SIDS, dress your infant in light, comfortable clothes for sleeping, and keep the room temperature at a level that's comfortable for an adult.
If you're worried about your baby staying warm, dress him in a "onesie," pajamas that cover arms, legs, hands, and feet. Remember, don't use a blanket -- your baby can get tangled in it or pull the blanket over his face.
Steer Clear of Products That Claim to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
It's best to avoid any product that says it can reduce your baby's risk of SIDS because most aren't proven safe or effective. Cardiac monitors and electronic respirators also haven't been proven to reduce SIDS risk, so avoid these, too.