October has received the designation as SIDS Awareness Month, and numerous safety agencies are doing their part to explain to parents the danger posed to newborns by this condition. A new report notes that in the state of Washington alone, 387 infants died in 2011 because of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or some other medical condition.
As the report explains, one of the best ways that parents can protect their children is by setting them up in a suitable sleep environment. To do that, there are certain practices from the American Academy of Pediatrics that should be followed, as related in that same article.
First, parents must understand that children are safest when they’re able to sleep alone in their cribs. Although some parents may opt to have their children in their own beds in certain circumstances, this is actually quite dangerous, as that bed is not designed for an infant and a sleeping parent could roll over without realizing it. A crib designated specifically for an infant is the way to go.
For parents who absolutely cannot bear to leave their children alone in a room to sleep, pulling the crib into the parents’ bedroom is acceptable. But no matter what room the crib is in, the child should always be placed on his or her back. The risk of suffocation is simply too great for children on their sides or stomaches. Placing a child on their stomaches for a short period of time is only acceptable when the child is awake and parents are there to supervise.
Parents also need to understand the danger posed when various objects are placed within the crib environment. Sheets that fit tightly across the mattress are acceptable, but loose blankets are not due to their potential to lead to suffocation. Blankets are not a good idea, but for those parents worried about their children getting cold, footie pajamas or a sleep sack are a good alternative. You also need to remove pillows from the crib, as well as toys. Basically, the environment should be clear of absolutely anything that could block a child’s airway.
There are steps that parents can take in their own lifestyles to encourage good health among their young children. Children are less likely to be endangered if they reside in a smoke-free environment, for instance.
Finally, make sure to speak with a doctor about how you can protect your children from SIDS. He or she will likely encourage immunizations at the necessary intervals, and they may also tell you to stay away from those products that purport to reduce SIDS. Research still needs to be carried out to vouch for the efficacy of these products.