Now that you are pregnant or have recently given birth, your friends and family might joke that “You’ll never sleep again.” While that might be true—and frustrating—don’t be tempted to jeopardize a safe sleep environment in an effort to get your baby to fall asleep. Angie Quirk, RN, director of Lake Health Maternal and Child Services, explains the basics of safe sleep:
Guidelines for safe sleep
Always place your infant on his or her back to sleep. Babies placed on their stomachs or sides have the highest risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Using a swaddling wrap also reduces the risk of SIDS. To learn how to swaddle your baby, watch this short video.
To reduce strangulation, suffocation or entrapment, place the infant in a safety-approved crib with closed sides or properly spaced slats. Don’t use bumper pads. Make sure the crib has a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. Dress your baby in sleepwear to ensure nothing covers his or her head. Don’t use pillows and don’t allow soft objects, toys or loose bedding in the crib. Never use a pacifier on a string because that could strangle your baby.
While it’s recommended to have your baby’s bed near yours, an infant should never sleep on an adult bed, couch or chair, either alone, with you or with another person. These conditions greatly increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment, injury and death.
What is SIDS?
SIDS is the sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation. It is the leading cause of death among babies ages 1 month to 1 year, with most deaths occurring between 1 and 4 months.
SIDS is not suffocation. It is not an illness, so it can’t be caught or spread. It is not the result of child neglect or abuse. It is not caused by cribs, choking or vomiting.
The good news is that while SIDS is not completely preventable, you can reduce its risk, along with the risk of other sleep-related causes of infant death. The best way to do that is to provide your baby with a safe sleeping environment.
Risk factors for SIDS
The top four risk factors for SIDS are:
- Household smoking
- Baby sleeping on his/her stomach
- Leaving sleeping baby unattended
- Formula feeding.
Breastfeeding and SIDS
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS and is recommended by Lake Health doctors and nurses, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many other health organizations. Studies show that any breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS by 40%, with the risk decreasing as the duration of breastfeeding increases.
For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding, see our blog, “Breastfeeding vs. Formula.”
Preparing for baby’s arrival
There are several classes and programs that will help you prepare for your baby, including:
- Childbirth Preparation Class
- Infant Care Class
- Childbirth Preparation for Teens
- OB Tour and Hospital Orientation
- Sibling Preparation
- Infant and Child CPR
- Breastfeeding Class
- Breastfeeding Support Group