- Placing the baby on the back to sleep.
- Not smoking during pregnancy, and keeping smoke out of the home.
- Keeping the environment cool. (In other words, don't let the baby get too warm).
- Minimize blankets and stuffed animals, (and anything else) in the crib to make sure the baby can't suffocate.
- Maintaining a good flow of fresh air in the room.
- Use a breathable, mesh type crib bumper.
The research and thinking points to SIDS related deaths being caused by a few factors. Rooms with minimal air flow, or lots of blankets, heavy bumpers, and stuffed animals can create dead spaces, where the carbon dioxide can build up, ultimately causing respiratory failure due to the baby's own exhalations. A warm room also can contribute to this due to creating less of a buoyant quality on the exhaled air. Placing a fan in the room can help circulate air. (Of course, don't blow the air directly on the baby!)
Other factors that may contribute to SIDS deaths are less clear, but the numbers point to actions that can reduce risk.
- Breastfeeding reduces SIDS deaths by up to 50%. .
- Keeping your baby in the room with you during this time (NOT in the same bed!) has been shown to reduce SIDS deaths.
- Baby sleeping with a pacifier may reduce SIDS. The recommendation is NOT to replace it if it falls out of the baby's mouth while sleeping.
- For some reason, children with up to date immunizations have a lower SIDS rate. This may be reflective also of up to date pediatrician visits.
Congratulations to all of the new mothers out there, and here's to safe sleep and healthy kids!