Baby with SIDS
Parents can do the following things during or after pregnancy to reduce the risk of SIDS including avoiding smoking, alcohol drinking, breastfeeding for a longer time, and place the baby on their abdomen while they are awake.

No single tip is 100 percent effective in preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers are still finding the possible causes of SIDS, so there is no known way to prevent SIDS. However, you can reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS by

  • Placing your baby to sleep on their back rather than on their abdomen or side for the first year of life.
  • Using a firm bed or surface with a fitted bedsheet.
  • Keeping fluffy blankets and stuffed animals out of their crib.
  • Not overheating your baby too high of a room temperature while they’re sleeping.
  • Not smoking during pregnancy and after birth.
  • Breastfeeding the baby for a longer duration.
  • Keeping your baby in the same room as yours but alone in a crib or bassinet for at least six months.
  • Not making them sleep with you in your bed to avoid the risk of suffocation and strangulation.
  • Not placing your baby on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
  • Not letting your child fall asleep on nursing pillows or pillow-like lounging pads.
  • Not using baby monitors or other commercial devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Offering a pacifier without a strap or string at naptime.
  • Placing them on their abdomen multiple times under your supervision when they are fully awake.

What is SIDS?

SIDS is an unexpected and unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby younger than a year old. Most death occurs when they are sleeping in their crib. Hence, they are also called crib deaths. Although the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, it seems that SIDS might be correlated with defects in the part of an infant’s brain associated with breathing and awakening from sleep. The baby’s brain is unable to detect low oxygen levels in the blood. Then, the baby fails to rouse and succumb to hypoxia.

What are the causes of SIDS?

The exact cause of SIDS is unknown. However, studies have shown that some babies who die from SIDS have the following:

Apart from these, some of the sleep environmental factors can also increase the risk of SIDS, which include

  • Sleeping on the abdomen or side
  • Sleeping on a soft surface
  • Sharing a bed
  • Overheating

Several risk factors are also associated with increased risk of SIDS, which include

  • Gender: Boys are slightly more likely to be affected by SIDS.
  • Age: Infants are most vulnerable during the second and fourth months of life.
  • Ethnicity: African American infants are more susceptible to SIDS.
  • Family history: Babies who have siblings or cousins affected by SIDS have higher chances of getting SIDS.
  • Secondhand smoke: Babies who live with smokers are at increased risk of SIDS.
  • Being premature: Being born prematurely and having a low birth weight increase the chances of SIDS.

Some maternal factors during pregnancy can increase the chances of SIDS in babies, which include

What can parents do to reduce the risk of SIDS?

Parents can do the following things during or after pregnancy to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during and after pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding babies for a longer time.
  • Schedule and go to all prenatal care.
  • Always place the baby on their abdomen while they are awake.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/17/2021
References
Moon RY. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx

Mayo Clinic. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sudden-infant-death-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352800#

Boston Children's Hospital. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) | Symptoms & Causes. https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/s/sudden-infant-death-syndrome-sids/symptoms-and-causes