Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is very rare. Enjoy your time with your baby, and know that you can do a few things that can help to prevent SIDS.

SIDS is the death of a baby younger than 1 year with no known cause. In most cases, a parent or other caregiver puts the baby—who seems healthy—down to sleep and returns later to find that the baby has died. No one is at fault when a baby dies of SIDS. A SIDS death cannot be predicted, and in many cases it cannot be prevented.

Doctors do not know what causes SIDS. It seems to happen more often in premature and low-birth-weight babies. It also is seen more often in babies whose mothers did not get medical care during the pregnancy and in babies whose mothers smoke.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Put your baby to sleep on his or her back, not on the side or tummy. This reduces the risk of SIDS. Use a firm, flat mattress. Do not put pillows in the crib. Do not use crib bumpers.
  • Once your baby learns to roll from the back to the belly, you do not need to keep shifting your baby onto his or her back. However, keep putting your baby down to sleep on his or her back.
  • Do not let your baby get too hot and do not overheat the bedroom where your baby sleeps. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Consider offering your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime if your doctor agrees.
  • When your baby is awake and someone is watching, allow your baby to spend some time on his or her belly. This helps your baby get strong and may help prevent flat spots on the back part of the head.
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that babies younger than 1 year sleep in their own crib.
  • Talk with your child care providers about these safety steps. Explain in detail what you expect them to do. Do not assume that your child care people know these guidelines.
  • Be wary of products that are billed as helping prevent SIDS. Talk to your doctor before buying any product that claims to reduce SIDS risk.
  • Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in the house or around your baby. Exposure to smoke increases the risk of SIDS. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Breastfeeding your child may help prevent SIDS.

What to do while still pregnant

  • See your doctor regularly. Women who see a doctor early in and throughout their pregnancies are less likely to have babies who die of SIDS.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, which can help prevent a premature baby or a baby with a low birth weight.
  • Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in the house or around you. Smoking or exposure to smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. Alcohol or drug use may cause your baby to be born early.

When should you call for help?

Be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any questions.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: July 26, 2016