We watch our children while they explore the beautiful world around us, making sure they are safe. Yet, when it comes to sleep, it is very common to choose what makes us comfortable rather than what truly will keep them safe. This month of October is SIDS Awareness Month, so let's talk about safe sleep!
First, what the heck is SIDS? I'm sure you have heard this term several times, but what does it actually mean?
SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is the "sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year of age that cannot be explained even after a full examination." SIDS is responsible for 43% of infant mortalities according to a study done in 2015. In addition to this, 25% of deaths occurred due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
So how can we decrease our chances of experiencing these tragic situations?
Based on years of scientific research, the AAP suggests the following to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation. SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
(1) Always place your child on her back to sleep. If she is able to roll from her tummy to her back, it is ok to leave her if she rolls over on her own. If she still has not accomplished this fete, roll her to her back if she rolls to her tummy.
(2) Always place your child on a firm and flat surface.
(3) Have your child in the same room as you.
(4) BUT in a sleep space of her own (bassinet or crib or safe space that is designated safe for sleep).
(5) Keep the sleep space clear of anything but the fitted mattress sheet. This means no blankets, no pillows, no bumpers, no toys. Just a crib, mattress, and the fitted sheet that goes around the mattress.
(6) Set the temperature somewhere between 68 and 72.
(7) Do not overdress your child. Check her hands and face to make sure she is not too warm.
(8) NEVER place your child to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
(9) Avoid holding your child for sleep if you feel you might fall asleep. ESPECIALLY if on a couch/chair.
(10) Do not use wedges or other positioners.
(11) Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
(12) Stop swaddling your child once she can roll over or shows signs that she is trying, whether it is voluntary or not. This can happen around 8 weeks of age!
(13) Check that the swaddle is not too tight, making it difficult to breathe or to move hips. If you discover that your child is ready to outgrow the swaddle, I advise switching to a sleep sack.
(14) Offer a pacifier to your child at the beginning of sleep. If it falls out, you do not need to reinsert. If your child does not want the pacifier, that is ok. If breastfeeding, wait to use the pacifier until this is well established.
(15) Provide tummy time when she is awake to help your little one strengthen her muscles and more quickly catch on to rolling both ways.
(16) Immunize your child. Regular immunizations reduce risks of SIDS by 50%!
(17) Breastfeeding. If you have a little one under the age of one, I hope that this information allows you to keep your little one safe at night and allows you to sleep more peacefully at night knowing this is so.
“Improving Infant Safe Sleep Conversations.” NICHQ - National Institute for Children's Health Quality, 12 May 2018, www.nichq.org/improving-infant-safe-sleep-conversations?submissionGuid=a80582fd-e7ac-4c3b-a72c-89f7c2185881.
Task Force On Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Nov. 2016, pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162938.