SIDS: Every New Parent's Worst Nightmare

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! Along with the many happy moments that accompany having a baby, many parents are also plagued by worries and concerns that they've never experienced before. The desire to keep your newborn safe and healthy is the overriding concern of most new parents. One of the scariest thoughts that many new moms and dads have is that their baby will succumb to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to this terrifying condition.

SIDS Is Rare

The first thing to remember is that SIDS, while very scary, is also very rare. Approximately 3,500 deaths each year are attributed to SIDS, but some of those deaths include death by suffocation, which is not exactly the same thing (and which is also preventable). This is also a very small percentage of babies; with approximately four million babies being born each year, this works out to less than one in 1,000 babies. Chances are overwhelmingly excellent that your baby will not die from SIDS.

Smoking Raises the Risk of SIDS

Although SIDS rates have been falling in recent years, smoking remains one of the most common and prevalent risk factors. This includes both smoking during pregnancy and exposing your baby to secondhand smoke. Insist that anyone visiting your home refrains from smoking indoors. Also, avoid places where people are smoking when you have your baby with you. If you or your partner smokes, talk to your doctor about ways you can quit. Eliminating this risk factor will further decrease the chances that you will be affected by SIDS.

"Back to Sleep" Has Merit

When you had your baby, the nurses probably advised you to place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Once this advice became the norm in the United States, SIDS rates fell dramatically. Until your little one can roll from front to back (usually between four and six months of age), keep "back to sleep" in mind. Once he or she can roll over, it becomes less of an issue.

Consider Putting the Baby in Your Bedroom

Having your baby close by can help you be more attuned to the typical noises that he or she makes. Putting a bassinet or cradle in your bedroom will give your baby a safe place to sleep while giving you the chance to be at an arm's length. This can help both of you sleep better and can ease your mind about the danger of SIDS. Co-sleeping, or putting the baby in bed with you, is a controversial and potentially unsafe practice that could lead to suffocation, so it's generally not recommended.

Talk to your baby's doctor about ways to decrease the risk of SIDS, or visit a clinic like Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP for help.. Even though the condition is very rare, most parents breathe a sign of relief when their babies reach six months old, which is when the biggest danger passes. In the meantime, keep your baby away from cigarette smoke and place him or her to sleep in a bassinet or cradle in your bedroom if possible.