Caring Tips for Your Child When Facing SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an unpredictable condition that can affect any baby, usually between 2 and 4 months old. A baby with SIDS may abruptly and inexplicably die, leaving parents devastated. Currently, doctors have no explanation for the cause of SIDS. However, they have noticed some similarities between certain SIDS cases. These similarities include problems with cognitive function, problems with heart function and the presence of respiratory infection. Additionally, certain actions like smoking or using alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of a baby being born with SIDS.
With the birth of my firstborn, I naturally developed a curiosity about SIDS and wanted to learn everything I could to provide the proper care for my child should he develop it. After reading everything I could get my hands on about this mysterious condition, I found that while many things are out of our control, there are plenty of things you can do to care for your SIDS child.
1. Don’t let your baby get too warm
Prenatal specialists are warning parents against over-bundling their SIDS baby at night. Studies have shown that overheating can significantly increase the risk of death for SIDS babies. While it’s important to keep your baby warm during the winter months, letting them get too warm may be a trigger for their SIDS. Check them regularly by touching the nape of their neck and make sure they don’t feel hot to the touch and make sure to set the thermostat somewhere between 68° and 72° Fahrenheit.
2. Keep their crib in your room
The easiest way to monitor your baby for signs of SIDS is to keep them in your room while you sleep, at least for the first 6 months. This will make it easier and more convenient for you to perform routine checks on your child throughout the night. Also, you’ll know when the room gets too hot because you’ll be feeling the temperature as well. Always keep them in their crib, as the dangers of having a baby sleep in your bed are well known. Another modern way to keep a close eye on your child is by purchasing an oxygen and heartbeat baby monitor, which can provide you with real time updates on your child's vitals.
3. Breastfeed your child
While it may not always be possible depending on your situation, studies indicate that breastfeeding your child for at least 2 months can cut the risk of developing SIDS in half! As of now, doctors are unsure of why this is but all data indicates a viable correlation between the two. Additionally, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of developing allergies and eczema as well as boost the immune system response.
4. Talk with your pediatrician
While it’s unnecessary to call your pediatrician for every minor sneeze or snuffle, it’s worth scheduling a visit to educate yourself on the signs of SIDS so you can act appropriately when necessary. Early symptoms of SIDS include drowsiness, unresponsiveness and feeling very hot. If you suspect something might be wrong, don’t hesitate to call a professional immediately. If you are reading this and still pregnant, make sure to also speak with your prenatal care team as well, as they will have valuable information on how to prevent this condition from occurring in your child.
5. Learn about proper sleeping positions
For the first year, having your baby sleep on their back has been shown to cut the risk of SIDS in half. Never let your SIDS child sleep on their side or stomach during this age. If necessary, use a blanket to make sure they stay on their back the whole night. Similarly, make sure your baby has a firm mattress with fitted sheets, as this will reduce their ability to roll onto their side or stomach.
On the other hand, make sure to give them plenty of time on their stomachs while they are awake. This “tummy time” doesn’t have to be the whole time they’re awake, but spending some time on their stomachs helps with motor development and breathing. Similarly, it can stop flat spots from developing on the back of your baby’s head. Having a mix of time on their front and back is the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Without a doubt, the best way to deal with SIDS is to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. To do this, make sure to consult with your prenatal team on proper diet and, as stated before, avoid any drugs, alcohol or smoking. When it comes to dealing with SIDS in your child, I find the best prevention is simply education, careful monitoring and alertness.