My husband and I recently did a webinar on Safe Sleep + SIDS Prevention, but wanted to share about it for those who missed it. You can watch the full recording for more information and in depth review of Safe Sleep + SIDS Prevention practices and lovingly send it to those who will be watching your baby at any time. —>
True or False: SIDS is a leading cause of death for infants younger than 1 year of age.
SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age and it is mostly associated with sleep. 60% of all SIDS deaths occur before 6 months of age. It wasn’t until 1992 when pediatricians began recommending safe sleep practices like placing a baby to sleep on his or her back, did we see a HUGE drop in SIDS rates!
As a new mom my biggest fears changed from spiders + roller coasters to the death of my baby. The SIDS I had learned about in nursing school + as a nurse became but my BIGGEST anxiety. With my second baby, that worry still haunted me and if she slept longer than a couple hours at a time I would wake up in a complete panic and rush over to the bassinet just to make sure she was still breathing.
We live in a time where evidence is at our fingertips, technology is ever evolving, and there are literally thousands of products on the market advertised to decrease the risk of SIDS. Yet SOMEHOW, SIDS is STILL the leading cause of death for babies younger than 1 year. Why? What can we do to protect our babies and lower their risks?
Well, first we should talk about what causes SIDS, right?
Right… BUT scientists don’t really know what causes SIDS. In fact, it is when every other possible cause of death is ruled out that the diagnosis of SIDS is given. BUT they do think that there are THREE CONDITIONS that when combined can lead to SIDS:
Vulnerable Baby With Brain Abnormalities + Critical Development Period + Outside Stressor —> SIDS
Vulnerable Baby: A baby with a healthy brain is a baby that will wake frequently throughout the night, maybe because it’s too cold or too hot, or they are hungry, or they have caught a cold and can’t breathe really well. They have those reflexes that allow them to startle themselves awake- a vulnerable baby doesn’t have that.
Critical Development Period refers to the rapid growth that happens during a child’s life, especially during infancy. Their MANY growth spurts cause an increase in metabolism, an increase in heat production, a change in heart rate, and a change in breathing.
Outside stressors refer to environmental stressors such as the weather, stomach sleeping, overheating, secondhand smoke, or even a common cold. Most babies are able to handle these changes, BUT a baby who is already “vulnerable” + going through critical development period may not be able to overcome them.
Here is a list of what SIDS is NOT:
It is not caused by suffocation
It is not caused by vaccines
It is not contagious
It is not a result of child abuse or neglect
It is not caused by cribs
It is not caused by vomiting or choking
It is not completely preventable- BUT there are ways to reduce the risk.
All of the things that I mentioned above can result in infant deaths, but they would be considered SUID (SOO-ID): Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. SUID is actually an umbrella term to describe ALL infant deaths that are unexpected. Actually, HALF of all SUIDs are a result of SIDS.
The other half include tragic events that can be sleep related like suffocation: when the baby’s airway is blocked and they can’t breathe, entrapment is when the baby gets trapped between two objects, like a mattress and a wall, or strangulation when something wraps around the baby’s neck. It also includes things like infection, metabolic diseases, traumas, and ingestion.
Knowing this, we can see that we as parents/caregivers do have the power to decrease outside stressors to decrease our baby’s risk for SIDS and other causes for SUIDs.
Is it okay to OCCASIONALLY place my baby to sleep on his/her tummy for sleep? No. Studies are showing that babies who are used to being placed on their back for sleep and then are occasionally placed on their stomachs are at HIGHER risk for SIDS than babies who are always placed on his/her tummy for sleep.
I place my baby to sleep on their back, but they are now rolling over onto their tummies, is this okay? YES. This is totally normal and if they are already rolling over on their own, there is no need to reposition them
My baby has acid reflux/gerd. Won’t placing them on their backs for sleep increase their risk for choking? NO. Anatomically, placing a baby on their back decreases the risk for stomach contents to enter the trachea (the “tube” that leads to the lungs) and cause choking or aspiration. When a baby is place on their stomach, the stomach contents (acid or spit up) can enter the trachea by gravity and actually increases their risk for choking. (see image below)
Won’t my baby get a flat spot on their head? Yes. Flat spots can occur when the baby is in the same position for a long time and are usually not harmful. They will go away once the baby is starts rolling over or sits up on their own. Make sure to help prevent flat spots by giving you baby PLENTY of supervised tummy time when awake, limit the time spent in carseats, swings, AND you can even change directions the baby lies in the crib
What if I am exhausted and accidentally fall asleep while nursing my baby? It is less dangerous for you to accidentally fall asleep nursing in your bed than in a chair or on the couch. If you notice before a feeding that you are just exhausted, avoid a rocker or the sofa- Remove all soft items and bedding before nursing from your bed and nurse there. You can also set a timer on your phone for 40 minutes to wake you up at the end of a feed to place the baby back in the separate, safe, sleeping area.
What if my baby spits out the pacifier while sleeping, do I have to put it back? NO. Studies show that it is the actual process of falling asleep with the pacifier that decreases the risk for sleep. So no need to put it back once the baby is already asleep.
What is wrong with heart/breathing monitors? Heart and breathing monitors that are not prescribed to you by your pediatrician are not safe. They can offer false reassurance, false alarms, and can also lead to parents relying on these monitors and end up using products that go against safe sleep recommendations
Is it okay for a family member who smokes to care for my baby as long as they do not smoke around him/her? NO. Smoking, regardless if it is second hand smoke, third hand, or 100th hand, is extremely harmful to your baby’s health and puts them at high risk for SIDS. Feel empowered to advocate for the health of your baby and require that anyone who smokes to change clothing that has not been smoked in, shower, or just not come around your baby.
What is a safe temperature to keep my thermostat at? Recommendations say to keep a baby at ambient temperature during sleep, so around 70-72 degrees F during sleep. Remember, if you are hot, so is your baby. Keep them cool during sleep to help decrease the rise for SIDS.
I would like to breastfeed my baby, and keep them close to me, any recommendations for safe sleep? YES! We are actually expecting our THIRD baby and have chosen to use the Bedside Sleeper by babybay®, which is a crib that attaches to the side of your bed to provide a separate, flat, safe surface for our baby to sleep in. That way I can literally keep her directly next to me while I sleep, roll over to pick her up when she is hungry and bring her to me for nursing, then roll back over and gently place her safely back in her separate safety approved crib. It was actually our main concern when we began nesting, and were so relieved to find this crib that allows “co-sleeping” in a separate crib AND prevents or even eliminates the risk of falls, suffocation, or entrapment. We just set it up this week and will be posting a video and blog, so stay tuned!!
Have more questions? Check out the video for more information. If your question is not answered in the video, drop it below in the comments! You’ve got this!!
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