October is SIDS awareness month and we wanted to make sure that we didn’t let the month pass by without spending some time discussing this very scary phenomenon. As moms, we know that the unknown or unexplainable can be the most frightening and SIDS is one of those things. Often, pediatricians say, “We just don’t understand why this happens,” and that means that we feel out of control – a horrible thing for parents with newborns. While this is true, we do know that there are things we can do to reduce the risk of losing a child to SIDS.
Unfortunately, not all of the suggestions are “popular” or easy to follow and some are controversial these days. We read a wonderful blog from Harvard Medical School about why some parents don’t follow these recommendations. Here are our thoughts:
“Cute” isn’t safe
Many of our friends and clients are so excited to learn that they’re having a baby and they can’t wait to decorate! We get it. We want to remind you, however, to leave out the bumpers! We know they’re cute and match everything so nicely and make the crib look “cozy” but it’s not safe. Parents often tell us they are concerned that a baby will get a limb stuck between the slats or that they’ll bump their head against the hard wood….all of those things are less of a concern than suffocation. Leave out the bumpers and the quilts.
Firm, not soft
Our mom was very worried when she was with Debbie picking out the crib and mattress for her first daughter. She told her that the mattress was too hard and seemed so uncomfortable! Debbie remembers telling our mom that, “she’s a baby, not a princess!” Well, even princesses should be sleeping on a firm surface. Soft is not safe. A mattress with a soft sheet is a perfect crib environment for a baby.
Get BACK to sleep!
Yes – babies should be placed on their backs. While many parents don’t think this seems comfortable or they worry about a baby startling himself (swaddling will solve this problem), this position has been found to be the safest and has the least risk in causing suffocation.
Co-sleeping, not bed sharing
We are very supportive of families who choose to keep their babies close by when they are young – especially when moms are breast feeding. We highly recommend a bassinet or pack ‘n play next to the bed or an arm’s reach co-sleeper. Debbie just discovered this new HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Bassinet and thinks it looks extremely helpful. If your family does decide to have your baby sleep in the same bed, please make sure that there are no pillows or blankets in the bed and that your mattress provides a firm surface. Also remember that although it’s tempting to snuggle up on the couch and fall asleep with your little one, it’s very dangerous. Finally, when you’re nursing your little one late at night, you might want to set an alarm (on vibrate) so that if you do doze off, you will be able to wake up shortly after and put your baby safely into his own sleep space while you head back to sleep yourself!
Pacis aren’t just for fun!
We know that not everyone wants to introduce “another nipple” to their baby and we respect that. Pediatricians do believe, however, that it can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Thank you for not smoking
Just a reminder that yet another risk of smoking is SIDS…even smoke on clothing and through shared walls in apartments increases the risk.
Parents…especially GRANDparents (!) worry about little new borns being cold. We always quickly grab a pair of socks and a hat if there’s a slight breeze. Remember that babies should be sleeping in a room around 68 degrees Fahrenheit….not much warmer. We recommend putting your baby to sleep in a cotton onesie and swaddled in a cotton swaddle blanket or sleep sack.