When a woman becomes a mother, the world is suddenly a very scary place. There are suddenly a million things to be fearful of. The fear that affects mom the most is the fear of losing her baby. She has just gained this precious life that she loves more than anything else, and the thought of something happening to them is almost too much to bear at times. Sadly, there are a lot of mothers out there who must endure the loss of their baby before they even had a chance to bond, and this is due to SIDS.
SIDS, meaning Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or crib death, is one of the leading causes of fatality among newborns and infants. It is a constant fear for many mothers and has them chronically going in to check that they are breathing throughout the night. It is often referred to as crib death because it generally happens when a baby is sleeping.
While the amount of SIDS related deaths has dropped drastically throughout the years, it is still a number too high for any mom to feel comfortable. In 2010; 2,000 babies passed away due to SIDS. Most cases of SIDS are found when a baby is between 1 and 4 months of age, but it can occur any time until the baby is 1, when the numbers drop drastically.
The hard thing about SIDS is that it is unexplainable. An infant death is only ruled as SIDS when they can not find any other cause for the passing. No one factor that has been proven 100% to be the cause of SIDS. Through the years there have been numerous studies which found factors that highly contribute to SIDS. Since they have introduced certain changes to the baby’s environments, the numbers of SIDS deaths haved decline drastically. We can not help but think they may be on to something.
Here are 15 things that may cause SIDS that a lot of moms just simply forgot.
One of the biggest changes that came across right before the number of SIDS deaths declined was the Back to Sleep Campaign. Medical professionals used to inform mothers to lay their babies on their sides or stomachs to sleep. This was to prevent babies from spitting up throughout the night and choking on it. They have since discovered that babies have a reflux, and when they do spit up, they are more likely to turn their heads than choke on it.
By placing babies on their backs to sleep, we have seen the reduction in SIDS among infants. That is because babies who are sleeping on their stomach have their breathing restricted. They are breathing in too much carbon dioxide and not enough fresh oxygen. That means that the air that they are breathing is recycled, they are simply re-inhaling the breath they last let go.
Where your baby sleeps is a hot debate topic among parents in today’s world. Ideally, a baby should have their own sleeping space following all the guidelines for safe sleep. But a lot of families are choosing to bed share with their infants. Co-sleeping and bed sharing are two very different things that are often misinterpreted.
Co-sleeping is sharing the same room as your infant while they sleep, and this should ideally be done until your baby is 6-months old. Bed sharing is when you share a sleeping space with your baby, normally your bed. There are safe practices for how to bed share, and if you follow those you will lessen your chance of something happening to your baby. Sadly, if you bed share the risk is still higher than if the baby has their own sleeping space. Keeping a bassinet or cradle near your bed is an excellent way to safely sleep in close proximity to each other.
You are going to notice a trend here that has a lot to do with a baby’s sleep environment. Professionals first looked at a baby’s sleep environment because most of the cases of SIDS occurred at times when a baby was sleeping in their crib. Makes sense to start there in our investigation into what may be contributing factors for SIDS.
It is always best that a baby sleep on a hard mattress with a fitted sheet. It may not sound so comfortable, but a baby does not yet know all the comfort that bed time has to offer. It is much better to have a safe and healthy baby than take any chances with a soft and plushy mattress. The reason a firm mattress is so important is because if the mattress is too soft, the baby could sink into it and there is a risk of suffocation.
This is not going to be a lecture on the many reasons women should quit smoking, even if they are single without children. We are all adults and we are all aware of the risks that come with choosing to light up. Smoking has been linked to the increase risk for SIDS, and not just when you smoke around your baby. Most women do not smoke around their children, but sometimes the damage has already been done.
When a woman smokes while pregnant, the chance of her baby dying from SIDS is three times higher than if she did not smoke when she is pregnant. Again, not a lecture about how you shouldn’t smoke when you are pregnant, we are all grown ups who make our own decisions. Second hand smoke is also a danger when it comes to causing SIDS. Unfortunately for smokers, the numbers do not lie, and all the numbers point to reasons why you should butt out for good!
I expect this one to cause some controversy, but babies who are formula fed do have a higher chance of dying from SIDS. Breastfeeding your baby can lower the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. Experts are not sure why this is, but through studies they have found that the majority of babies who have passed away due to SIDS were formula fed.
Some do think that breastmilk helps protect baby from infections that are linked to a higher risk of SIDS. Now, formula is there for a reason and it is a great way to nourish your baby, so don’t fret if you formula feed your baby. Just make sure that you follow the rest of the guidelines closely, and you can even add something as simple as skin-to-skin to help battle the risk. Skin-to-skin has been shown to reduce a baby’s risk of dying from SIDS.
This one is a little different, because we are going to battle a myth that has been going around. Vaccines do NOT cause SIDS. We should all say it one more time; vaccines do NOT cause SIDS. There has been a lot of talk among the anti-vaxxing community that one of the vaccine-injuries is SIDS. This is not true. It is actually the complete opposite.
Immunizations are proven to help combat the risk of SIDS. By ensuring your child has all their vaccinations on time, you are lowering their risk of SIDS by 50%. Vaccines can be overwhelming, they get so many and the ingredient list is enough to scare anyone. But there is a difference between actual evidence and scare tactics. If you are wary of vaccines, please speak to a medical professional or two. Don’t base your decision on Facebook memes meant to scare you.
Did you know that by not giving your child a pacifier, you could be increasing the risk of SIDS? This is one that is not commonly known, but it should be because it is just so simple. Giving your baby a pacifier when they sleep is a great way to reduce the risk of SIDS. Researchers are not sure why the risk is reduced, they are only going by what they have found through their studies.
Researchers think it may have something to do with how a pacifier keeps your baby stimulated enough through the sucking motion to keep from falling into that place during the night where SIDS happen. SIDS is often related to breathing, and the general thought is that babies just stop breathing, but we are not sure why. When you are constantly stimulating them through the night, they are taking in more breathes.
This may be a great song to listen to if you are ever in Jamaica, but it is also a reminder of another contributing factor when it comes to SIDS. Overheating is a contributing factor when it comes to SIDS, so it is important to make sure that your little one is never overdressed. The rule of thumb for when they are sleeping is to put one more layer on than you normally wear.
So, if you normally wear pajamas, put them in an undershirt and sleeper to sleep. It is also important to keep the house at a comfortable level. If you control the heating in your home, make sure it is around the 68-70 degree temperature. If you live in an apartment where you do not control the temperature just alter what they are wearing. Never check a baby’s temperature by their hands and feet, they will often be cold. It is best to check it using their torso and the back of their neck to see if they are too warm or too cold.
Medical professionals are starting to realize that we do not need to limit what babies eat. They used to recommend not feeding babies any allergen foods before the age of one. Things like peanut butter and eggs were on the list of foods to avoid until the baby was one. Now, they are seeing that the earlier we introduce these foods, the less likely chance that they will develop an allergy to it.
That is everything except honey. Honey is the one thing you are still to not give your baby until they are one year old. Honey can lead to botulism in young children, which is a dangerous and fatal disease. More and more studies show that this infection can lead to SIDS in young children. It is important to check any medications you are giving your baby because some of them contain honey, especially natural type remedies. This is definitely a food that they don’t need until they're older.
When a mom loses a baby to SIDS she often blames herself, but she shouldn’t. More and more studies are being done to try and prove that SIDS is as simple as biology and is due to conditions of the brain that the baby is born with, and that there is nothing you could do to try and prevent it or know that it was going to happen.
Researchers are looking at delays or abnormalities in brain development of nerve cells that are responsible for heart and lung function. This means that there is a signal issue in the baby’s brain that causes them to pass away, where their brain does not send signals to the heart and lungs to function properly. Hopefully, if this theory is true, further testing can be done to see how we can fix this problem. We can only hope that this is true, and, in a few years, we can do testing on all infants and have proper preventable measures.
When you are setting up the nursery, you should always take into consideration where you put the crib. This is something that is often overlooked by parents, they just don’t think about it. It could be very important to think about, because where you put the crib may increase the risk of SIDS affecting your family.
The nursery may just be the most dangerous place for a baby, only because that is where they sleep. A crib should never be placed near a heat/cold source. If the crib is placed near a vent, then the chances of a baby overheating are greatly increased, just because they are too close to it. If you have no other choice but to place the crib there, adjust their clothing. Also, make sure the crib is not near any cords. Of course, this would not be marked as SIDS as there is a cause of death, but it is just another helpful tip.
Bumper pads may be cute all wrapped around the crib, but they really should never be on a crib. They are dangerous, and we are shocked that stores still sell them. It may only be a matter of time until those are banned, much like other baby items (here in Canada anyways). Bumpers were made to prevent your little one from getting tangled up in the rails, or from banging their heads against the side.
The damage that could possibly do from a head bang or a caught leg is very minimal. Babies can not hit themselves so hard it hurts, and if they do they will live another day. Bumpers are a big no because they are a suffocation hazard. Babies can get their tiny faces brushed up against them and limit their ability to take in oxygen. They can also get caught in them if they become loose or untied. It is best to leave bumpers on the store shelves.
When I look at baby pictures of me sleeping I am shocked and quite surprised I lived. There I was in my crib, laying on my stomach with a pillow, blanket and a bunch of stuffed animals. I was also only about 6-weeks old. Times sure have changed, and there should never be anything in a crib other than a fitted sheet and a baby, that is it.
These are all suffocation risks and increase the risk of SIDS. Many parents worry that their babies won’t be comfortable without a pillow and blanket. We only think that because we are used to sleeping with pillows and blankets. Babies don’t know any different, they only know what they have been doing since birth. They don’t know what it is like to sleep with a pillow or blanket, so they are not uncomfortable. Blankets are fine after 1 year and a pillow after 18 months.
The best place for a baby to sleep is in their bassinet or crib. They should not be sleeping in any other devices. Car seats, swings and bouncers are common places that a baby will like to fall asleep. We understand why. Their shape is more like the womb, where they are curled up, but it can increase the risk of SIDS to let them sleep in anything other than their crib or bassinet.
Some situations can not be helped; you are on a car ride or out doing some shopping and they fall asleep. This is fine, but these places should never be their main place of sleep. That is because when they are in that position, their head is normally bent down which can restrict the air that they are taking in. If your baby falls asleep in the swing at home, it really is best to transition them to safe sleep space, as inconvenient as that may be for you.
Now that we have probably terrified all new moms (that was not our intention) you are probably wanting to purchase one of those monitors that are all the rage right now. Those little devices that you clip on the baby’s diaper or foot and that claim will alert you when your baby has a break in their breathing. These gimmicks may give you a sense of relief, but they should not be trusted.
When babies sleep their breathing is all over the place. It is normal for them to go up to 30 seconds between breaths. These devices will both alert you and give them a small vibration to stir them to breath. Now all you have is more worry, and an awake and screaming baby. There are also no studies yet to show that if you interfere early enough that you can stop SIDS from happening. Your best bet is to follow all the guidelines, that really is all you can do.
Sources: medicinenet.com, webmd.com,