SIDS is NOT just something that happens to other people, and to a large extent it is preventable.

Informing yourself about the causes of SIDS, and recognized safe sleeping practices, can go a long way towards preventing a tragedy...

What is SIDS?

SIDS (or sudden infant death syndrome) is the sudden death of an infant, under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete post-mortem investigation. In the US it occurs in approximately 1 in 1,000 babies. Most cases occur between the ages of two and four months. For unknown reasons, SIDS is higher in males than females by a ratio of 1.5 to 1.0.

What Causes SIDS?

SIDS seems to be a combination of many factors: immature development of cardio-respiratory control mechanisms, failure to wake from sleep in response to breathing difficulties, medical conditions that compromise breathing, and unsafe sleeping practices. SIDS researchers now also believe that many SIDS deaths are attributable to suffocation rather than a defective physiological or neurological response from the baby. Suffocation results from the baby breathing and re-breathing the same air until the oxygen in the air is depleted.

Preventing SIDS

1. Place your baby on the back to sleep, for every sleep, unless advised otherwise by your pediatrician. Back-sleeping babies awaken easier; have a lower chance of getting overheated; breathe more oxygen and are less likely to suffocate.

2. If possible, breastfeed your baby. Breastfed babies have an up to three times lower SIDS rate.

3. Do not smoke during pregnancy, and keep your baby's environment smoke-free. Studies show that exposure to cigarette smoking at least doubles the risk of SIDS.

4. Don't let your baby get too warm. SIDS researchers believe that overheating may cause respiratory control centers in some babies to fail.

5. Make sure that your baby cannot suffocate, by ensuring that baby's nose and mouth, are not obstructed by bedding or objects such as soft toys.

6. Make up the baby crib according to safe sleeping practices.

* Place baby's feet at the foot of the baby crib so that he or she can't wriggle under the covers.

* Covers should come no higher than baby's chest.

* Use a thin blanket. Soft crib bedding can suffocate infants.

* Tuck the blanket in well on both sides of the crib under the baby crib mattress.

* Remove quilts, soft toys, pillows, comforters and other bedding from the baby crib.

* Use a clean, firm, snug fitting crib mattress and a fitted crib sheet, preferably organic.

* Crib bumpers are not recommended.

7. Make sure that there is a good flow of fresh air. Open a window, or keep the door partially open.

8. Use a baby crib that meets current safety standards, preferably organic. The chemicals out-gassed by wood veneers and finishes are considered among the possible causes of SIDS.

9. Make use of an apnea monitor.

10. If possible let baby sleep in the parent's room for the first year. For unknown reasons, the close proximity of a baby to its parents during sleep has been shown to reduce SIDS risk. (Note that baby should NOT be placed IN the parent's bed due to the risk of suffocation.)

11. Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. Research now indicates an association between pacifier use and reduced SIDS risk.

12. Don't be in too much of a hurry for your baby to sleep through the night. Babies that are trained to sleep through the night, before they are physically ready, are at a higher SIDS risk.

13.Ensure that others caring for the infant (child care provider, relative, friend, babysitter) are aware of these SIDS prevention measures.

Author's Bio: 

Author Helen Burroughs is stay at home mom to three precious little girls. Visit her website below for more information on baby crib safety and advice on how to create a beautiful baby nursery.