Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants aged 1–12 months, and is the third leading cause overall of infant mortality in the U.S. You can reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death by following these six steps:
- Put your baby to sleep on her back. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. Make sure all caregivers, including relatives and babysitters, follow this advice.
- Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet. Never place your baby on a pillow, quilt or other soft surface to sleep.
- Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of your baby’s crib. Don’t use pillows, blankets, quilts or pillow-like bumpers in your baby’s crib. Make sure nothing covers the baby’s head or face.
- Keep your baby from overheating. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing. Keep the room at a cool temperature (68 to 72 degrees).
- Don’t smoke around your baby. Also, never allow anyone else to smoke around your baby.
- Immunize your baby. Evidence shows babies who’ve been immunized have a 50% reduced risk of SIDS compared with babies who aren’t fully immunized. Download a 2014 recommended immunization schedule.
Risk Factors for SIDS
SIDS is more likely when a baby is between 1 and 4 months old. Factors that may place a baby at higher risk of dying from SIDS include:
- Babies who sleep on their stomachs rather than their backs
- Mothers who smoke during pregnancy (they are three times more likely to have a SIDS baby)
- Exposure to second-hand smoke from mothers, fathers and others in the household (this doubles your baby’s risk of SIDS)
- Mothers who are younger than age 20 at the time of their first pregnancy
- Babies born to mothers who had no or late prenatal care
- Premature or low birth weight babies