Sudden infant death syndrome is the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year of age. That much we do know. There is still a lot we don't know about SIDS, but there are some things you can do to lower your baby's risk.
Our friends at American Baby Magazine have created a web page with some important advice and Judy Nolte, editor in chief of American Baby, offers up some tips to protect your baby.
SIDS, is what the name says, sudden infant death. "It's a baby, usually between the age of two months to 12 months who suddenly dies unexpectedly, with no known cause," Nolte explains. The most frightening aspect is it's a normally healthy child, not a sick one.
4500 babies a year die of SIDS. "A large portion of them are boys between the ages of two and four months and it seems to be more common in the winter," says Nolte.
The first tip to help protect your baby and keep them a little bit safer is to put your baby to sleep on his or hers back always. Since this strong suggestion has been put into effect it has cut the rate of deaths by 60%. "If a baby sleeps on her stomach, she can get her nose into the cushions or into the pillows and have trouble breathing," explains Nolte. Also, no toys or pillows should be in the crib with the baby.
It's suggested to share the room with your baby, but not the bed. So many parents like to co-sleep with their baby, they find it more pleasant and emotionally satisfying. But Nolte warns an adult bed is not a place for a baby. It's a place full of blankets, pillows and softer surfaces. The best place for a baby is on a hard surface on his or hers back.
Also don't overdress your baby. It's thought a baby that is dressed warmly has an easier time falling and staying asleep. Unfortunately, babies don't have the abilities or neck strength to wake themselves up if they fall asleep too deeply.
Lastly, it's best to breast feed and use a pacifier. "Both breastfeeding and a pacifier open up the airways more," says Nolte. "The baby has to do a little more work." This allows the muscles in the lungs and mouth to get stronger and make it easier for the baby to rescue itself before he suffocates.
For more information on SIDS please visit FirstCandle.org and for other parenting advice, click here to visit the American Baby website.
by Jenn Eaker
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.