Did you know that SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and accidental deaths from strangulation or suffocation account for well over 3500 infant deaths in the U.S.? The irony here is that despite a major decrease in the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its recommendation in 1992, this decline has plateaued in recent years. Concurrently, other causes of sudden unexpected infant death that occur during sleep (sleep-related deaths), including suffocation, asphyxia, and entrapment, and ill-defined or unspecified causes of death have increased in incidence since the early 2000s.
What Moms Can Do: Recommendations for Prenatal & Postnatal
Do not smoke during pregnancy or after your baby is born. Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. If you are a smoker or you smoked during pregnancy, it is very important that you do not bed share with your baby. Also, keep your car and home smoke-free. Don’t smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.
Do not use alcohol or illicit drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born. It is very important not to bed share with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol or taken any medicines or illicit drugs that can make it harder for you to wake up.
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS. Breastfeed or feed your baby expressed breast milk. The AAP recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. Even after you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months, or longer if you and your baby desire.
Schedule and go to all well-child visits. Your baby will receive important immunizations at these doctor visits. Recent evidence suggests that immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS.
Make sure your baby has tummy time every day. Awake tummy time should be supervised by an awake adult. This helps with baby’s motor development and prevents flat head syndrome. See Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play for more information and ways to play with the baby during tummy time.