In the United States, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the major cause of death
in infants from one month to one year of age. SIDS happens to families of all social,
ethnic and economic groups. Most SIDS deaths occur when babies are between two and four
months of age. African American babies are more than two times as likely to die of SIDS
as white babies. Although a great deal of research is underway, the cause(s) of SIDS
remains unknown. We know that SIDS is not suffocation, contagious or hereditary; it is
not caused by cribs, immunizations, vomiting or choking.
Currently there is no known way to prevent SIDS. But after many years of research, we
do know that babies sleep safer when placed on their back on a firm surface
. Since the
early 1990's when the United States initiated the Back to Sleep Campaign the number
of SIDS deaths has dropped by over 50 percent. Based on recent research studies and the
2005 recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, we know that there are other
ways to further reduce a baby's risk of dying of SIDS.
Expectant families, parents, babysitters, grandparents, childcare providers and everyone
who cares for a baby should know and follow the Safe Sleep Top Ten recommendations listed
Infants should be placed for sleep in a supine position (wholly on the back)
for every sleep. Side sleeping is not as safe as supine sleeping and is not advised.
Use a firm sleep surface. Water beds, quilts, etc., should not be placed under
an infant. A firm crib mattress covered by a sheet is the recommended sleeping surface.
Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of the baby's sleep area. This
includes the use of bumper pads.
Do not smoke during pregnancy. Do not expose babies to second hand smoke after birth.
A separate, but proximate, sleeping environment is recommended. That is, room-sharing
is to be encouraged, but not bed sharing. Babies brought to an adult bed for
breastfeeding should be returned to their own sleep area when breastfeeding is finished.
Consider offering a pacifier during sleep. A pacifier should not be reinserted if it
falls out after the infant is asleep. The pacifier should not be coated with sweet
liquids and should be washed and replaced regularly. For breastfed infants, pacifier
use should be delayed until one month of age to ensure breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Avoid overheating. Over bundling should be avoided and the infant should not feel hot to the touch.
Avoid commercial devices marketed to decrease the risk of SIDS; such as wedges to
maintain an infant's position or "flow-through" mattresses designed to
- Do not use home monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Avoid the development of flat heads. Supervised "tummy time" while baby is
awake and alternating the sleeping direction of the head during sleep is recommended.
For additional information: www.californiasids.com