Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the name given
to the sudden and unexplained death of a healthy baby who is put down to sleep
and later found dead with no obvious cause. It is the leading cause of death in
babies between 1 month and 12 months of age. A higher risk of SIDS is seen in
babies 2 to 6 months of age and SIDSoccurs more often in boys than in girls.
There is no known cause as to why SIDS happens.
How can babies be protected from the risk of SIDS?
Even though there is no known cause, there are actions
you can take to lower the risk of SIDS:
- "BACK TO SLEEP." Infants should always be placed on their backs for
every sleep and nap.
- Babies should sleep in their own cribs or bassinets that are within
reach of your bed. Bed sharing during sleep is not recommended.
- Use a firm sleep surface. A firm crib mattress, covered by a sheet, is
the recommended sleeping surface. This is called "bare naked crib."
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib. Pillows, quilts,
comforters, sheepskins, crib bumpers, stuffed toys and other soft objects
should be kept out of an infant's sleeping environment.
- If a blanket is used to keep the baby warm, it should be a thin blanket
and only cover the baby to the height of the chest. The blanket should be
kept below the level of the baby’s arms and tucked into the sides and bottom
of the crib mattress to keep secure.
- Keep your baby away from second-hand smoke. Smoke increases an infant
risk of SIDS as well as other health problems.
- Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime after your baby is
1 month old. The pacifier should be used when placing the infant down for
sleep or a nap and not be reinserted once the infant falls asleep.
- Avoid overheating. The infant should be lightly clothed for sleep, and
the bedroom temperature should be kept at what would be considered
comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
- Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. Although
various devices have been developed to maintain sleep position or reduce the
risk of aspiration, none have been tested sufficiently to show efficacy or
- Assure that others caring for the infant (child care provider,
grandparent or other relative, friend, and babysitter) are aware of these
What are healthy awake positions?
Avoid development of positional plagiocephaly (flat back of head). Encourage "tummy time" while awake and being supervised.
Remember "tummy time" is for play and back is for sleep.
Avoid having the infant spend excessive time in car-seat carriers and "bouncers." Place the infant to sleep with his/her head
facing one side of the crib for a week and then facing the other side of the crib the next week.
For more information on crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission web site at www.cpsc.gov
For other infant care and safety information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website at www.aap.org
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/4/2011…#13646