Safe Kids Carroll: Some preventative tips during National SIDS Awareness Month – Carroll County Times
October is very well known for being Breast Cancer Awareness month, but not many people know it is also National SIDS Awareness month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the “sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted.”
SIDS is the leading cause of death among 1-12 month old infants, and while the exact causes are unknown, research has shown that there are ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Here are some guidelines from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and Fetal/Infant Mortality Review Board at the Carroll County Health Department:
- Always place babies on their back for every sleep.
- Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
- Have the baby share your room, not your bed.
- Do not let the baby sleep on a couch, chair, or adult bed alone or with anyone else.
- Keep soft objects such as pillows, loose bedding, bumpers, and stuffed animals out of your baby’s sleep area. All you should have in your crib is a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.
- Think about giving your baby a pacifier for naps and nighttime sleeping to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Do not force it on the baby, and do not attach it to anything (a string, clothes, etc.). If the pacifier falls out while the baby is sleeping, there is no need to put it back in their mouth.
- Watch for signs of overheating such as sweating or the baby’s chest feeling hot to the touch. Dress baby appropriately for the environment (do not over bundle), and keep baby’s head and face uncovered during sleep.
There is a lot of misinformation out about SIDS and safe sleep. SIDS is not caused by suffocation or vaccines, and it is not contagious. While it is not completely preventable, the steps listed above are effective ways to reduce the risk. A great interactive resource that shows a safe sleep environment is www.nichd.nih.gov.
Crib choice is a very important part of your child’s safety and prevention of SIDS. If you can fit a can of soda between the slats of your crib, that means a child’s head, foot, or arm can get stuck. Do not use a crib if the sides go down, and make sure your crib meets CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standards.
Remember that babies should be placed on their back for every sleep and the only thing in the crib should be the mattress with a fitted sheet. No blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or bumpers should be in the crib as they can block a baby’s airway during sleep.
If you are worried about your baby getting cold at night, try using a sleep sack, which is a wearable blanket. To prevent soft spots on the back of your baby’s head, allow plenty of “tummy time” while the baby is awake and supervised. Tummy time is also important for developing strong muscles and motor skills!
If you or someone you know has been affected by SIDS, there are resources in our community to aid in the grieving and healing process. Each death is unique and comments from the most well-meaning people can be unhelpful and hurtful. We highly recommend talking to a professional: Carroll Hospice’s Dove House in Westminster offers free bereavement services and support groups; please call 410-871-8000 for more information.
Becky Smith is Health Educator/FIMR Board Member at the Carroll County Health Department.