SIDS is a parent's worst nightmare. The causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are still unknown, but by taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the risk of SIDS happening to your baby, and have some peace of mind that you've protected your child.

SIDS is also known as crib death and is defined as the unexplained death of a otherwise healthy, sleeping infant. Ongoing research has linked some specific risk factors to this syndrome. The thought of crib death is a worry for every new parent, but SIDS is actually quite rare, occurring in about 2 out of every 1000 infants.

What are thought to be the causes of SIDS ?

Much research has been done into just what causes SIDS and while it seems that most infants who succumb to it , seem to have been perfectly healthy babies, it is now thought that they might have had an underlying disorder that caused pauses or apneas in this breathing. There are many theories about why this would happen, from prematurity and low birth weight, a previous apnea where measures were taken to revive the baby, genetic factors, or malnutrition.

How do you know if your baby is at risk?

SIDS seems to occur during an infant's first 6 months of life, most often in the winter months, and usually between midnight and 8am. Babies most at risk at those who were born prematurely, boys more often than girls, babies whose families have a history of SIDS and those born to mothers who smoke cigarettes. Research also seems to show that babies who sleep on their tummies are more at risk and the recommendations are that parents place their infants on their backs for sleeping.

Are breathing monitors necessary ?

Some parents feel better having some kind of monitoring system during the night. The problem is that almost all very young babies will have brief little pauses in breathing that are common and harmless, but that will set off the alarms, scaring the parents badly. Monitors are a good idea where there is a history of SIDS in the family , or if your baby suffers from heart or lung problems.

How to reduce the risk of SIDS:

-Never smoke or let anyone else smoke near your baby.
-lay your baby on her back to sleep.
-look at a sleep sack that zips up rather than blankets that can get pulled over baby's face during the night.
- make sure your baby is not too hot - check for overheating by feeling the back of her neck or her chest. It should feel warm and dry not hot and sweaty.
- use a clean, new and firm mattress for your baby to sleep on.
- avoid fluffy quilts and comforters in the crib
- don't place stuffed animals or pillows in the crib
- make sure the crib is not against any form of heat source.
- never use a hot water bottle or electric blanket in the crib.

Concerns to watch out for:

Contact your pediatrician if your baby has any of the following signs:
- very hot or very cold to the touch
- turns blue or very pale, especially while sleeping
- seems to be having troubles breathing from a cold or chest infection
- has a convulsion
- has quick, shallow breathing or snores all the time
- seems very hard to wake up or is exceptionally drowsy
- seems to have a very slow pulse.

While SIDS is rare, it is a scary thing to have to worry about and most parents breathe a huge sigh of relief once the 6 month mark has passed. Learning infant CPR can help make parents feel more secure in knowing they could help save their babies life if needed.

Author's Bio: 

Kimberley Becker is the founder and author of a website for parents of twins at

She is a stay at home mom of four beautiful children, 2 boys and 2 girls. She has a degree in Applied Counseling and Early Childhood Education and has previously worked as a special needs worker, a Counselor for abused women, and a Counselor for High Risk Youth. For a more complete discussion about the ways to prevent SIDS visit