Q&A: Preventing SIDS

Q: How can I prevent SIDS in my baby?

A: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2-4 months old. Generally SIDS occurs without warning in a baby who seems healthy.

Risk Factors

Because most cases happen when a baby is sleeping, SIDS is sometimes called “crib death.” Cribs do not cause SIDS, but other sleep issues can increase your baby’s risks:

• Sleep position: Babies placed to sleep on their tummies or sides are at higher risk of SIDS than babies placed on their backs. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) started the “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s, SIDS cases in the U.S. have dropped by more than 50 percent.

• Smoking: Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a SIDS baby. Being around people who smoke doubles an infant’s risks for SIDS. 

• Bedding: Sleeping on pillows, soft surfaces and soft bedding are linked to a higher SIDS risk.

The cause of SIDS is unknown. Most SIDS deaths are associated with sleep, and there are more cases during cold weather. While African-American and Native-American infants are more likely to die of SIDS than other infants, this is thought to be more related to lifestyle and environment than to any genetic predisposition. . More boys than girls experience SIDS.  Other situations where an infant may be at increased risk for SIDS are:  premature infant, twin sibling of a SIDS victim, an infant that has experienced an acute life threatening event and an infant with chronic lung disease requiring oxygen when discharged to home.

Other potential risks include:

• Drinking or drug use during pregnancy

• Poor prenatal care

• Premature birth or low birthweight

• Mothers less than 20 years old

• Overheating of the baby during sleep

Reducing the Risk of SIDS

You can help lower your baby’s risk of SIDS by doing the following:

• Always place your baby on his/her back to sleep every time. This is the number one way to reduce the risk of SIDS. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but are sometimes placed on their tummies are at a very high risk. It’s important for babies to sleep on their backs every time – both for naps and for nighttime sleep.

• Always place your baby on a firm sleep surface. Never place your baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, or other very soft surface.

• Get rid of soft objects and loose bedding. Never place pillows, comforters, quilts, or other soft/plush items near, on top of, or under your baby.

• Avoid overheating. Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Keep the room comfortable for adult wearing light clothes. The baby should not feel hot to your touch.

• Breastfeed your baby.  Full term infants who are breastfed have a 36% reduction in the risk for SIDS when compared to infants that are formula fed.

• Give your baby a clean, dry pacifier at sleep time. Pacifiers at sleep time are linked with a lower risk of SIDS. If your baby rejects the pacifier, don’t force it. If you are breastfeeding, don’t use a pacifier until after the baby is 1 month old.

• Don’t expose your baby to secondhand smoke.

• Keep the baby’s crib/bassinet in the room where you sleep. This has been linked with a lower risk of SIDS.


Your Baby's Senses

mother holding smiling baby boy

(BlackDoctor.org) — Find out about your baby’s five senses at birth and

Your newborn navigates the world using his five senses. Baby’s sensory
explorations are constant, whether he’s mesmerized by Daddy’s face (or his
brightly patterned tie) or soothed by the sound of his favorite lullaby or the
smell of Mommy’s skin. Keep things interesting by exposing baby to lots of new
sensations — tickle him with a feather or play your favorite CD. The
possibilities are endless when there’s a whole world to discover.

1. Baby’s Sense of Touch
Your baby
thrives on being held and cuddled. And your touch has an amazing power to
communicate love, as well as soothe him and even boost his immunity. Research
shows that babies who are stroked lovingly don’t get sick as much and cry less
often. And preemies who are massaged grow and develop faster than babies who
aren’t. It’s natural for your newborn to prefer soft touches, like a gentle
caress or the feel of soft cotton. You’ll notice that baby bristles at a rough
touch or a scratchy, coarse fabric.

2. Baby’s Sense of Taste
Baby’s palate
starts to develop in the womb. Different flavors from Mom’s diet are transmitted
to baby through the amniotic fluid, and then through breast milk once he’s born.
Recent studies show that the foods baby was exposed to during pregnancy or
nursing are the ones he tends to like. So if you love carrots, don’t be
surprised if your little one shares your opinion. But no matter what you ate
during pregnancy, baby is born with a sweet tooth. He’ll love that first bite of
sweet pureed banana or applesauce.

3. Baby’s Sense of Hearing
hearing is well developed at birth, but he prefers high-pitched voices, like
Mom’s, because he hears them best. That’s why the baby talk most people use is
also music to his ears. Over the first year your child’s hearing will sharpen
and he’ll learn to track sounds. For the first three months, he’ll only turn
toward a sound that’s in front of him, but by 6 to 12 months he’ll look toward a
noise coming from behind him or from across the room.

4. Baby’s Sense of Smell
Baby’s little
nose is in full working order at birth. He knows your scent well from the time
he spent in the womb, and studies show that newborns can tell the difference
between their mother’s breast pads and those of another nursing mom by scent.
Babies are born preferring sweet smells like the fragrance of vanilla; lemon is
also a favorite. And your newborn naturally dislikes foul odors, like the smell
of rotten eggs. He also hates bitter or sour tastes — probably an instinct to
help him avoid dangerous foods.

5. Baby’s Sense of Sight
At first, a
baby’s eyes don’t work together, and studies suggest that he sees two of
everything. He focuses best on objects 8 to 12 inches in front of him (images
closer or farther away are blurry). That’s about the distance to your face when
you’re feeding him, so it’s no wonder that he loves looking at you.

Newborns prefer the human face in general. They’re especially drawn to the
outline of the face or the hairline, which is easy to see because of the
contrast. Newborns can distinguish light from dark but can’t quite see color
until about 4 months. Try getting baby’s attention with high-contrast patterns
(like a checkerboard or stripes) and black-and-white or boldly colored toys. At
4 months he’ll begin to use his eyes to coordinate his hand movements, making
reaching and grabbing easier.

The information on BlackDoctor.org is designed for educational purposes
only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care.
You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or
illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult
a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your
child’s condition.