For parents, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a terrifying topics that lurks in the back of their minds. I was a new mom not too long ago, and before I did any research on the topic, the name alone had me feeling helpless. Unfortunately, within all the legitimate information, there are plenty of old wives' tales about SIDS that are totally not true. When you're a first-time parent, every little thing can set off a danger alarm, leaving you so flooded with fear that it's difficult to sift through fact and fiction. Before you bundle your baby in bubble wrap — which might seem like a good idea, but is actually counter-intuitive — put your mind at ease by putting these myths to rest.
From your parents and in-laws to well-meaning friends, it seems like everybody wants to chime in with their own safety advice. But unless those words of wisdom are rooted in evidence, you might just be working yourself up into an unnecessary state of worry. Though the hazards and risks of SIDS should be taken seriously, think twice when listening to your superstitious aunt. So check out some of these old wives' tales about SIDS that are completely false.
1. There's No Way To Prevent SIDS
Due to the fact that the cause of SIDS was a mystery for so long, there's an idea that you can't prevent what you don't understand. There is plenty you can do to make your baby as safe as possible and the numbers don't lie. According to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, putting your child to sleep on their back has reduced the rate of SIDS-related deaths by more than 50 percent. It turns out knowledge truly is power.
2. Back Sleeping Is A Choking Hazard
Despite the very clear evidence that placing your baby to sleep on their back is the safest practice, some still purport the idea that it's dangerous in its own way. Dr. David Mendez, a neonatologist, told The Huffington Post, "there’s an old wives’ tale that if you put your baby down on his back, he’ll throw up and choke on it." Though this myth might seem plausible at first, it fails to be proven accurate. Mendez further explained that babies can turn their heads to throw up and the idea that sleeping on their back increases the risk of SIDS due to choking is unfounded.
3. SIDS Only Occurs In Cribs
I remember my grandmother telling me that, people called SIDS "crib death" back in the day. But as the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) noted, cribs do not cause SIDS. Rather, the features of the sleep environment — such as a soft sleep surface — do.
4. Vaccines Cause SIDS
Complete BS. The World Health Organization reported, that SIDS deaths are co-incidental to vaccination and, "would have occurred even if no vaccinations had been given." As my grade-school science teacher would say, "correlation does not equal causation."
5. Side Sleeping Is As Safe As Back Sleeping
Many veteran parents told me they would rather put their child in a position that let them sleep easier and longer because they thought side sleeping was as safe as back sleeping for babies. However, the National Sleep Foundation noted that side sleeping isn't as safe as back sleeping because, infants who sleep on their sides can roll onto their stomachs, putting them at a greater risk for SIDS. Just remember, this point in time won't last forever and your child will be sleeping in the craziest of positions soon enough.
6. SIDS Is Contagious
You might think this one is too ridiculous to be an old wives' tale, but I promise you that loads of my friends who are parents have heard the myth that, somehow, SIDS is contagious. To put this tall tale firmly in the fiction category, the NICHHD confirmed that a baby can't catch SIDS since it's not causes by infection. Again, this myth probably originated during the era when SIDS was still a complete mystery to doctors and scientists. Thankfully, now we know better.
7. SIDS Affects All Ages
Some old wives' tales might have you think that SIDS can happen at any age. But Dr. Linda Fu, a pediatrician, told The Huffington Post that the risk for SIDS significantly decreases around six months mostly because that's the age when most babies develop the ability to roll over and have mastered lifting their head. Still, it's a good idea to maintain a safe sleeping environment for your baby.
8. Cats Suck Out Baby's Breath
If your family has its roots in Eastern European folklore like mine does, then you may have heard this bizarre myth that, by sucking out a baby's breath, cats can cause SIDS. It turns out that your pet isn't intentionally stealing your child's life force. Yet, as the American Academy of Pediatrics noted, the real risk is that household pets could pose a suffocation threat. With that in mind, you should be cautious of animals near your sleeping baby, but not for the same reason as the folklore.