But there is a very strong reason to teach your baby to fall asleep and sleep on his or her back. And that is, I’m sure you’ve heard, that the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot death is a lot lower with back sleeping.
Even if very few babies actually die from SIDS, most parents worry about it, of course.
So what can you as a parent do to really minimize the risk of SIDS?
Creating a Safe Sleeping Environment For Your Baby
Sleep position: On the back
When the general recommendation came to let infants sleep on their backs, the incidence of SIDS fell everywhere. While there are other factors as well increasing the risk for SIDS, sleeping on the stomach is the highest risk factor your baby. So choose the right sleep position – back sleeping – and let your baby get used to it.
If you’re worried that your baby will choke or get a flat head sleeping on his back, click here for answers.
Pacifier in mouth
Recently it was found that a pacifier actually reduces the risk of SIDS. It is not clear why, but experts believe that the pacifier might make it easier for the baby to wake up, that breathing through the mouth is facilitated and that babies turn less to sleep on their stomachs when using a pacifier.
A firm mattress is good to avoid the risk of causing breathing problems in case the baby rolls over to his stomach.
For an organic mattress without any harmful chemicals check out this one at Amazon.
Be careful with blankets and stuffed animals
Be very careful not to place blankets of stuffed animals into the crib in a way so that the baby might pull them over his face.
Consider buying a sleeping bag, something that I’ve used and really like to eliminate the risk that the baby covers its face with a blanket if it is too cold to sleep without some kind of bedding.
Cool sleep temperature
Make sure that the baby is not too warm and that it can move its body. This is important also in his or her stroller.
No smoking around the baby
Smoking both during pregnancy and near the baby after birth has a clear connection with SIDS. For example, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS by 3 to 4 times and more the more the mother smokes.
Breastfeeding appears to lower the risk for SIDS. Different studies show somewhat contradictory results, but there seems to be a slightly lower risk among babies that are breastfed completely for at least four months.
Well, these are the present guidelines to help parents reduce the risk of cot death as much as possible. But since research isn’t clear yet on the causes of SIDS, recommendations are likely to continue to develop. A fairly recent study in 2007 indicated found the same hearing impairment in all babies in the study that had died from SIDS. Hence, it is possible that in the future to identify babies that are at risk for SIDS using a simple hearing test.
These days there are very advanced baby monitors available for anyone who is truly worried and has a budget to buy one. One of the best is the Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor, with surveillance of a baby’s breathing and heart rate. (Opens in new window). There are other monitors too, like this cheaper one: the Snuza Hero Baby Movement Monitor, which monitors movements of the abdomen and thereby changes in breathing rhythm.
Feel free to share any thoughts on how to create a safe sleeping environment for babies by leaving a comment below.