Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplainable death of a baby, usually during sleep. It is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 and 12 months and is most common in the first 4 months.

The following tips are useful in preventing SIDS and other sleep related hazards.

  • For the first 6 to 12 months, the safest place to set up your baby’s crib is in your room in order to enable easy and regular check-ins
  • Your baby should sleep Alone (not with other people, pillows, blankets or stuffed animals), on his Back and in his Crib. This is called the ABC of safe sleep
  • If by chance your baby falls asleep on any surface other than his crib (such as in a car seat, on a sofa, etc), transfer him to his crib as soon as possible. Note that these other surfaces are not recommended for routine sleep
  • The mattress which your baby sleeps on should be firm (and not soft). This is because if a baby sleeping on a soft mattress happens to turn on his tummy, his face can easily sink into the mattress due to its softness and bounciness. This could then lead to suffocation
  • Ensure the mattress fits snugly into the crib so that there is no incident of your baby getting trapped between the mattress and crib rail
  • It is safest you put your baby to sleep on his back (not stomach or side). This is because research suggests that babies who sleep on their tummy stand a bigger risk of getting suffocated. Also, a baby who sleeps on his side is not exempted because he can easily roll from his side to his tummy
  • Once your baby begins to roll from his back to his tummy and vice versa, put him to down to sleep on his back but don’t interfere with whatever position he later assumes. This is because he can now adjust his body in case of any discomfort
  • To prevent suffocation, remove all soft objects like stuffed animals and pillows from the crib. Pillows are not recommended for children until they turn about 18 months
  • Avoid thick blankets and loose sheets because babies can get their heads stuck in them and then, suffocate. Instead, opt for dressing your baby in warm clothes to keep the cold away
  • If you feel compelled to use a blanket, go for the thin types. Your baby’s feet should be at the bottom of the crib and the blanket should be tucked in around the mattress and positioned no higher than your baby’s chest level
  • Don’t let the room get too hot or cold. Keep it at a room temperature which is suitable for the average adult
  • Avoid putting your baby in bed with pacifiers that have cord clips because they can pose strangulation risks
  • According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, bumper pads shouldn’t be used because there is no evidence that they protect against injury. Instead there have been cases which show that they pose potential risk of suffocation, strangulation and entrapment
  • Once your baby turns 5 months and begins to pull up in the crib, remove all mobiles and hanging crib toys
  • If for some unavoidable reason your baby has to sleep outside  his crib, ensure…

1. He doesn’t share a bed with children or pets because neither can understand or appreciate the sensitivity involved in handling a baby

2. He doesn’t sleep in between two adults in order to avoid getting covered with adult bedding. Instead, let him sleep between one adult and the wall. However be sure that there is no possibility of him getting trapped between the bed and the wall. A better option may be to set up the mattress on the floor

Do you know that…

  • Breastfeeding for as much and as long as you want reduces the risk of SIDS
  • Immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS
  • Infants have suffocated while using products such as wedges, positioners, special mattresses and specialized sleep surfaces, which are claimed but unproven to reduce the risk of SIDS
  • Children used to sleeping on their backs are 18 times more likely to die from SIDS when now placed on their tummies
  • About 1 in 5 SIDS death occurs when the child is in the care of someone other than a parent because these outsiders don’t put them to sleep on their backs as the parents do
  • If a baby is sleeping on his side, stretching his underneath arm forward will help stabilize him and keep him from rolling unto his tummy


Source: nationwidechildrens, healthy children, sids and kids, centers for disease control and prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, dr sears (Picture Courtesy: Gettyimages)