Every year in Canada, over a hundred infants still die in their first year of life without any apparent cause of death. This phenomenon is called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS mainly affects younger infants (one to four months old), but babies are at risk until they are approximately one year old.
The number of SIDS cases has decreased significantly in the past twenty years, in part because parents are now being advised to have their babies sleep on their back. Another factor that has helped reduce the number of deaths is that people now know not to smoke around babies. With those two factors now widely understood, we are seeing a plateau in the number of SIDS cases.
Faced with this plateau, American researchers analyzed over 8,000 SIDS cases in search of an explanation. They found that in 74% of SIDS cases occurring under the age of four months, the baby was sleeping in a regular bed (alone or with adults or other children) rather than in a crib.
This new analysis adds further weight to the current pediatric society recommendations:
- Babies should sleep on a firm, flat surface, ideally in a crib. You can keep the crib in your room, to make breastfeeding easier at night, for example.
- Do not place any soft objects (blanket, stuffed animal) in the crib, as these can suffocate the baby during sleep.
- Babies should sleep on their back until they are able to turn over by themselves.
- Do not smoke when your child is present.
- Keep the room at a comfortable temperature for sleeping (not too warm, but also not so cool that you might be tempted to add a blanket).
- Make sure your baby’s crib meets all current safety standards.
SIDS cases are very rare, but it’s always best to play it safe!