SIDS - Reduce the Risk

Sometimes a baby who seems healthy dies during sleep. This is called sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.

In most cases, a parent or caregiver places the baby down to sleep and returns later to find the baby has died. It's no one's fault. SIDS can happen even when you, as a parent, do everything correctly.

Although SIDS is rare, it is one of the most common causes of death in babies between 1 and 12 months of age. Most babies who die of SIDS are between the ages of 2 and 4 months. Even after years of research, SIDS remains unpredictable and claims the lives of about 2,500 infants each year in the United States.

There is no way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, here are some things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS:
  • The most important thing is baby's sleep positions. Always place your baby to sleep on his or her back rather than on the stomach or side.
  • Do not use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs while you are pregnant. Do not expose your baby to secondhand smoke during or after your pregnancy.
  • For the first six months, have your baby sleep in a crib, cradle, or bassinet in the same room where you sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do not ever sleep with your baby in the same bed, especially if you smoke or have used alcohol, illegal drugs, or medicine that makes you sleep very soundly (sedatives). Never sleep with a baby on a couch or armchair.
  • Keep soft items and loose bedding out of the crib. Items such as blankets, stuffed animals, toys, and pillows could suffocate or trap your baby. Dress your baby in sleepers instead of using blankets.
  • Make sure that your baby's crib has a firm mattress (with a fitted sheet). Do not use bumper pads or other products that attach to crib slats or sides. They could suffocate or trap your baby.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature so that your baby can sleep in lightweight clothes without a blanket. Usually, the temperature is about right if an adult can wear a long-sleeved T-shirt and pants without feeling cold. Make sure that your baby does not get too warm. Your baby is likely too warm if he or she sweats or tosses and turns a lot.
  • Breastfeed your baby and have your baby immunized.
  • Consider giving your baby a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. This may help prevent SIDS, though experts do not know why. If you breast-feed, wait until your baby is about a month old before you start giving him or her a pacifier.
There is no sure way to prevent SIDS, and no exam or test can predict whether a baby is likely to die of SIDS. Do not rely on breathing (apnea) monitors, special mattresses, or other devices marketed as a way to reduce your baby's risk of SIDS. These items are not proven to lower the risk of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not advise their use.

Remember, SIDS is rare. Be as safe as you can, but do not let fear keep you from enjoying your baby. Tell your baby's caregivers what you expect them to do. Do not assume that they know what to do to help keep your infant safe during sleep.