SIDS. It’s one of those heart-stopping acronyms for a new mom. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading killer of infants between one month to one-year old, and it happens without warning and without symptoms. Each year, about 2,500 children in America die from SIDS.
There is plenty of advice to go around on how you can reduce the risk of SIDS. Pediatricians recommend putting children to sleep on their backs, removing toys, blankets and bumpers from cribs, and keeping infants away from cigarette smoke.
Yet, the most controversial advice regarding SIDS includes the issue of co-sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes co-sleeping. Soft blankets and pillows can cause suffocation. Headboards can cause strangulation. And then there’s the risk of parents or siblings unknowingly rolling over on an infant.
Despite the warning, co-sleeping advocates defend the practice, saying that parents who co-sleep are aware of the baby, even in their sleep. And the benefits outweigh the risks – better sleeping, breast feeding, and bonding. In fact, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine defends co-sleeping and states there is not enough evidence to discourage parents from sleeping with their infants.
Advocates say that it isn’t a matter of telling parents that they shouldn’t sleep with their children, rather the focus should be on educating them to do it safely. Some common sense advice:
- Do not sleep with your child under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. This can lower your sensitivity to the presence of a child in bed with you.
- Don’t sleep with a baby after you’ve been sleep deprived. This could also lower your awareness of others around you.
- Do not allow toddlers to sleep with an infant.
- Don’t fall asleep with a baby on a couch. They can easily get wedged between pillows
- Don’t sleep with babies on waterbeds or other types of “sinkable” surfaces that can suffocate a baby.
For personalized health advice for your newborn, use the Vitals Doctor Finder to find a pediatrician you can trust.
Sources: sids.org and drsears.com