SIDS is the abbreviation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS refers to cases when babies die a sudden death due to unknown reasons. This is also known as crib death as the babies mostly die in their sleep in their cribs. These babies are usually less than a year old. The causes are still unknown, but according to research being done, SIDS results when a portion of the baby’s brain that controls the breathing of the baby develops certain abnormalities. However, there are some ways that you, as parents, can prevent your baby from SIDS. Keep reading below to find out.
What Are the Causes of SIDS?
There is no one particular cause as to why SIDS occurs in babies and how it happens, but researchers and experts have tried to investigate the many reasons how it can happen. They believe that SIDS occurs when the baby has an abnormal functioning of the heart, or problems with breathing or arousal. Another reason that causes babies to die due to SIDS is because they have lower than normal levels of serotonin in their brains, which is actually needed for breathing, as well as for maintaining a normal heart rate and a stead blood pressure for the baby.
Here are some of the physical factors that are associated with SIDS:
- Low Birth Weight: When a baby is born prematurely or is born in multiple births, this could lead to less weight of the baby and the baby’s brain may also not be fully matured and developed, which means that the brain has lesser control of the baby’s breathing and heart rate which can cause SIDS.
- Respiratory Infections: Many times, babies that catch colds, end up dying due to SIDS because their colds are not cured properly and therefore, they end up with breathing problems.
- Brain Abnormalities: Often, when babies are born, they are already born with brain abnormalities which in turn, contribute to SIDS and they end up dying in their sleep due to breathing and arousal problems.
Here are some of the environmental factors that are associated with SIDS:
- Sleeping with Parents: When a baby sleeps in the same room as his or her parents, it usually reduces the risk of SIDS, but if the baby sleeps in the same bed as the parents, this can increase the risk because the bed will have more soft areas that can make it more difficult for the baby to breathe.
- Sleeping on soft surfaces: Soft surfaces like waterbeds or puffy comforters can make it difficult for babies to breathe and also, wrapping a blanket over a baby’s head can also be a big risk factor.
- Sleeping on the side or stomach: If you place a baby on its side or stomach when it’s sleeping, it will have more difficulty with breathing.
How to Prevent Your Baby from SIDS?
There’s no guaranteed method as to how to prevent your baby from dying due to SIDS, but there are ways that you can help your baby sleep in a safer environment. Here are some of the ways you can help prevent your baby from SIDS:
- Sleeping On the Back: Make sure your baby is sleeping or resting on his or her back at all times, and not on its stomach or sides. If your baby is awake, then it’s alright for it to be on its stomach or sides as the baby will be in control of moving around and rolling over. If others are taking care of your baby, they won’t always know how the baby should or shouldn’t be sleeping, so make sure that you tell them if you are leaving your baby with sitters or loved ones.
- Don’t Overheat Your Baby: If you want to keep your baby warm, you can use warm sleeping suits that don’t need any extra covers on top of the baby, or put your baby in a sleep sack. If you are using a blanket, it should be very light and breathable. Don’t overheat your baby with too many covers and layers as it becomes difficult for it to breathe, and never cover the baby’s head, blocking all the ways for your baby to breathe.
- Breastfeed for 6 Months: Breastfeeding your baby for at least 6 months can actually reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Babies should sleep alone: If your baby is sleeping in your room, it’s great because you can keep an eye on him and her, at all times, but don’t let your baby sleep in the same bed with you because adult beds aren’t safe for babies. Babies can easily suffocate and have troubles with breathing due to the soft surfaces of the mattress and also get stuck in the spaces between mattresses and the frame of the bed. Babies can also suffocate if the parents accidentally cover the baby’s mouth or nose while sleeping and don’t realize it.
- Keep the Crib as Empty as Possible: The safest way to let your baby sleep in his or her crib is to let the crib be as spacious and empty as possible. Don’t leave too many pillows, blankets and stuffed toys around because this can interfere with the baby’s breathing if the baby’s face presses against the toys or gets stuck under the blankets.
- Pacifiers: Pacifiers actually reduce the risk of SIDS. Your baby can start using a pacifier by the time it’s at least 4 weeks old and has a settled nursing routine. If the baby doesn’t seem to like the pacifier, then don’t force it on him or her. Maybe it will want it some other day. If the baby pops out the pacifier when he or she falls asleep, don’t pop it back in.
If you are about to have a baby or already have one, you can reduce the risk and try to prevent SIDS with these facts and tips.