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SIDS & Sleep

In Guide

SIDS & Sleep

If you have spent sufficient time reading about babies and sleep, you're likely to have come across the term SIDS. We have researched SIDS to help you better understand what it is, how to minimize its risk.

This knowledge is something that will help you make better choices when it comes to sleep as well the products you do or do not buy.

What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected and unexplained death during sleep, of an otherwise healthy baby, less than one year old.

While the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, researchers believe it is to do with defective breathing or arousal from sleep.

What researchers do know is what are several factors that increase the risk of SIDS, and how to reduce these.

Preventive Measures

As the cause of this is unknown, there is no definite cure for to prevent SIDS. However, here is what every parent should know and do to drastically reduce the chances of it.

Back to sleep

Placing the baby down on her back is found to drastically reduce the risk of SIDS. Several countries that have adopted this practice have seen reduction in the incidence of SIDS, and it is the recommended method by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

While some parents believe that it helps to put the baby down on her side or stomach to help with digestion after feeding, this should be avoided as it increases the risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended since 1992 that infants be placed to sleep on their backs. Since that time, the frequency of sleeping on the back has decreased from >70% to ∼20% of US infants, and the SIDS rate has decreased by >40%.

SIDS Rate and Percent Back Sleep

As you can see in the chart above, there was a sharp drop in SIDS-related deaths in the USA, once the percent of babies sleeping on the back increased.

Keep the crib bare

For the first year, keep the crib as empty as possible. Specifically, it is recommended to use a firm mattress and avoid any loose furnishings such as blankets, bolsters, pillows, soft toys, wedges or even loose crib sheets.

The use of baby bumpers is an area that is debated. While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against using them, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) notes the advantages of protecting the baby against head bumps or her limbs getting stuck in crib slats.

Rather than using blankets that could cover the baby's head, AAP recommends the use of infant sleeping backs or 'sleep sacks' instead. These are wearable clothing that don't cover the head.

Loose crib sheets can prove to be a suffocation risk as well, and therefore well-fitted elasticated cot sheets help in avoiding that.

Avoid cot mobiles for the first few months, and avoid any products that have loose strings that the baby can get caught around.

Share a room with the baby and avoid co-sleep

It is recommended to share the same room as the parents. However, it is recommended not to share the same bed (or 'co-sleep'). The baby should sleep in a separate crib by herself until she is 1 year old.

Adult beds are not safe for babies, as the baby can get stuck between the mattress and headboard or the wall and the headboard. Co-sleeping can also lead to the parent rolling onto the child.

Breast-feed the baby

Breast-feed your baby, if possible. Breast-feeding for at least six months lowers the risk of SIDS.

Offer a pacifier

Pacifiers might reduce the risk of SIDS. Use pacifiers without a strap or string. If breast-feeding offer it after the first 3-4 weeks once the baby has gotten used to breast-feeding.


Research Links

1. AAP on Baby Sleep Positioning and SIDS

2. AAP Sleep Recommendations

3. JPMA Recommendations on Baby Bumpers

4. Mayo Clinic's Recommendation on SIDS

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