There's nothing that instills fear in new parents like the little four letter acronym for sudden infant death syndrome. SIDS is scary for any parent to even think about, but luckily with a bit of preparation and by implementing a few changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce the risk of SIDS, the chances go down drastically.
According to What To Expect, the risk of SIDS is "very, very small" and most common in babies one to four months old. Although the cause of SIDS and other sudden unexpected infant death syndromes (SUIDS) is largely unknown, experts have found little lifestyle changes that make your baby as safe as possible when they're asleep, making the small risk even smaller.
Most of these changes are probably second nature to you, but they're worth going over again just in case. Some of them are as easy as spending a few dollars on a new fan or swaddle blanket. Others might require a huge lifestyle change if they apply to you. Whatever the case may be, you'll be able to rest easier knowing that you've taken all the necessary steps to ensure your baby is as safe as possible when they're sleeping soundly at night.
1. Room Share For The First Few Months
Using a co-sleeper, like this First Year close secure sleeper ($36), has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS, according to SIDS and Kids. Room sharing (and not necessarily co-sleeping) has been shown minimize SIDS risk because of the close proximity to mom.
2. Ditch The Crib Bumpers
Parents noted that buying tight-fitted crib sheets, keeping any extras like stuffed animals and blankets out of the crib, and not using crib bumpers are all great ways to ensure there's no risk of asphyxiation.
3. Put Baby On Their Back To Sleep
Although baby sleeping "rules" have changed over the years, experts have found putting your baby on their back to sleep is the safest, according to Healthy Children. This is especially important in the early months when they're unable to roll over or sit up.
4. Use A Firm Mattress
According to Baby Center, buying a crib mattress is an important decision in reducing the risk of SIDS in your baby's room. Avoid using secondhand mattresses or any mattress with exposed padding which could allow for easier bacteria growth. Similarly, don't use mattresses that easily make an indent when you place your hand on it and then remove it.
5. Avoid Using Blankets Except To Swaddle
As stated above, covering your baby with a blanket is never a safe idea. Swaddling, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. According to a CNN article, swaddling your baby is the safest way for them to sleep. When they're old enough to roll over, switching to sleep sacks or wearable blankets is another safe way to keep your baby warm at night.
6. Keep A Fan In Baby's Room
A piece in the The New York Times reported on a study that found having a fan in your baby's room increases circulation and air flow and therefore, when applied with the other methods above, reduces their risk of SIDS or other dangers related to temperature or suffocation.
Although baby's room (or your room, if you're room sharing) is the most important room to pay attention to, making sure your whole house or apartment is at a comfortable temperature and well ventilated — What To Expect recommends between 68 to 72 degrees — will keep your baby from overheating.
7. Avoid Letting Your Baby Sleep In Swings Or Anything Not Specifically Designed For Sleep
Although sometimes it feels like you should do whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep, letting them sleep in swings or anything not specifically designed for unsupervised sleep, isn't as safe as laying your baby in a bassinet or crib, according to the Baby Sleep Site.