Helping Your Baby Sleep Safe

Posted In:

Your baby’s greatest health threat could occur as he sleeps peacefully. Here’s what you need to know about SIDS.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a terrifying reality for several thousand parents each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old—causing around 1,500 U.S. infant deaths each year.

The danger is that young babies struggle with rolling over and lifting their heads—meaning they could end up in a sleep position that could lead to suffocation. With this in mind, it’s crucial for parents to make sure that their babies are left alone in an environment that supports safety.

Be on Guard

SIDS, by definition, refers to deaths of infants less than 12 months of age that can’t be explained. But most signs point to accidental suffocation and strangulation as the leading causes of SIDS. Keep your baby safe by following these tips.

  • Get a proper crib—All cribs should contain a firm mattress. Remove loose sheets, blankets, pillows, bumpers and toys while the baby is in the crib.
  • Babies sleep solo—Infants should never share a bed with other children, parents or objects. If you’re breastfeeding, be sure to put your baby back in the crib before falling back to sleep.
  • Cribs stay close—Until your baby is capable of easily rolling in both directions, the crib should remain within the parent’s bedroom.
  • Keep an eye on “tummy time.”—Many babies enjoy being placed on their stomachs. While tummy time can be very beneficial, don’t leave the room or let infants lay on a bed in this position.
  • Provide a pacifier—Studies have shown that babies who use pacifiers have a lower risk of sleep-related deaths. Just make sure the pacifier isn’t attached to the baby or crib.
  • Use a sleep sack—Sleep sacks, which keep the baby warm, are a safer alternative to blankets.

Although SIDS is still a real danger for all infants, there are ways you can ensure your baby is as safe as possible. Just remember these rules and, as the saying goes, you may sleep like a baby.

Bedtime Checklist

Is it time to sleep? Before hitting the hay, follow this checklist to make sure you’re doing your part to keep your baby safe from SIDS.

▢ Baby is lying on his or her back.

▢ The crib is empty of all clutter.

▢ Baby is on a firm mattress.

▢ There are no blankets in the crib.

▢ Baby is dressed to stay warm, not hot.

▢ The crib is in parent’s room (if baby can’t roll over).

▢ Baby bumpers are removed from crib.

▢ Baby has a pacifier.

▢ Room temperature is comfortable.

Did You Know?

> Ninety percent of SIDS deaths occur when the baby is younger than 6 months of age, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

> SIDS is also known as “crib death” because of its association with sleeping infants.

> Thanks to a greater awareness and understanding, SIDS rates have been on a steady decline since 1992.

Schedule doctor visits for your child online at! Day or night, schedule appointments for next day and beyond with pediatricians Alan Brown, M.D., or Bird Gilmartin, M.D., here.

Drs. Brown and Gilmartin are members of the medical staff at Evanston Regional Hospital.