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Baby Sleeping Safety

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is the sudden, unexpected death of an otherwise seemingly healthy baby. There are no signs of the baby having suffered. Although there have been much research done on SIDS, it is still not know exactly what causes sudden infant death syndrome. There are various risk factors, but many of these can be minimized with some smart planning and care. Below are some possible risk factors:

  • infants sleeping on their belly
  • overheating from too much clothing and bedding
  • smoking and drinking during pregnancy
  • exposure to smoking after birth
  • pre-term and low birth weight
  • sleep surface is excessively soft
  • excessive bedding and stuffed animals blocking air ways
  • bed-sharing may increase the risk of SIDS

The above listed are some of the risk factors that contribute to the cause of infant sudden death syndrome. However, the most significant risk factor is stomach sleeping. Most sudden death in infants are associated with sleep, and it is commonly referred as "crib death" or "cot death". Studies have found a high incidence of sudden infant death when babies sleep on their stomachs. To minimize this, it is important to ensure a safe sleeping environment for your baby.

Baby Safe Sleeping

During the first month, a baby may sleep for 15 hours or more each day, and will wake up often making it difficult for the parents to get enough sleep. As your baby grows, he or she will gradually sleep for longer hours during the night. To minimize the risks of SIDS, it is important for the parents to take care when setting up the sleeping environment for their baby.

There is a difference between co-sleeping and bed-sharing. Co-sleeping is where the baby sleeps in the same room, but not in the same bed with the parents. Bed-sharing is where the baby sleeps on the same bed with the parents. Bed-sharing is a common practice in many places around the world - it makes it easier to breastfeed at night, and also makes it easier to calm your baby. However, bed-sharing may add to the risk of SIDS, where there is a greater risk of covering the airways of the infant. You should not share a bed with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol; if you smoke; if you take sleeping medication that would prevent you from responding to your baby; or if you have any condition that might prevent you from responding to your baby.

To make sleeping safe for your baby, below are some tips and suggestions:

  • It is always the safest to put your baby on his or her back to sleep.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep on overly soft and fluffy surfaces such as water beds, feather beds, air mattresses, or any surface that is too soft.
  • Let you baby sleep on a firm mattress that's no thicker than 6 inches. The mattress should also fit the crib frames properly such that there are no gaps larger than 3cm along the edges. If large gaps exist, it is possible for your baby to have his or her head stuck in the gaps and cause them to suffocate.
  • If your baby sleeps on a bed, make sure he or she will not fall off the bed, and that there should be no gaps between the mattress and the headboard.
  • Do not over-dress your baby causing excessive heat. Use a light blanket to cover, and you can touch the back of your baby's neck to check their temperature, and your baby should not be sweating. In a warm room, a sleeper and a light blanket should be enough. Over heating can also cause rashes.
  • Avoid using heavy blankets, quilts, and duvets.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep on or beside a pillow or stuffed animals that could block the flow of air.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding may help to reduce the risks of SIDS.
  • Choosing a crib that meets all regulations is important for baby sleeping safety. Be sure that all the parts of the crib are properly and securely connected and in place at all times.

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