Nothing is more important to new parents than providing the best possible care for their baby. A very important aspect is to ensure that your baby not only sleeps sounds, but safely too.
Although the causes are not often clear, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading reason for deaths in babies between one and 12 months. The good news is that there are a few simple measures you can implement to ensure safer sleep for your baby.
- Breast is best. For various reasons, including a lowered risk of infection, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the threat of SIDS.
- Your baby should always sleep on his or her back. Studies indicate that infants who do so are less likely to suffer sudden infant death.
- Use a firm mattress, and avoid soft, loose bedding, such as comforters, pillows, sheepskins, toys or bumpers, which could cause suffocation.
- Allowing your baby's feet to touch the base of the bed gives them a sense of security.
- Your baby should sleep in a separate area from you, but still close enough for your peace of mind.
- Smoking during pregnancy and after birth has a significant link to SIDS. Also never allow anybody to smoke around your baby, as this can double the risk of SIDS.
- Research has shown that using a clean, dry pacifier at sleep times can reduce the risk of SIDS. However pacifiers should not hang around your baby's neck nor be attached to their clothing. It is also best to only introduce a pacifier when your baby is a month old so that breastfeeding is well established.
- Do not allow your baby to overheat. Keep the room temperature at 20 - 22oC, and the rule of thumb when it comes to clothing is to dress your baby in one layer more than you are wearing.
- Monitors are useful in alerting you to your baby's needs, but should not be relied upon to reduce the risk of SIDS. In fact no product, including wedges, positioners, special mattresses or sleep surfaces, can make such a claim.
- Give your baby tummy time when he or she is awake, as this provides important stimulation and strengthens neck and shoulder muscles.
- Remember to immunise your baby at the scheduled times and visit your healthcare provider for regular checks.