There’s no way to sugar coat it: SIDS is truly is a parent’s worst nightmare.
I remember worrying to the point where I got up several times a night to check on my first son while he was sleeping. I was exhausting myself, and finally I had to sit down and come to terms with my fear. It is scary, but I realized I was doing everything I could to create a safe environment so the rest was out of my hands. I had to let it go.
My advice to parents is to do the same. Take the steps that we know can help prevent this terrible tragedy, and then get on with your life and enjoy your time with your new baby instead of being consumed by fear.
SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy infant (usually between 1 and 6 months) during sleep with no medical explanation. SIDS is rare, so when fear is taking over, remind yourself of this fact. Approximately 2500 infants die of SIDS every year in the US, but keep in mind that there are over four million babies born in the US in a year. Death rates have dropped by almost half since the Back to Sleep Campaign was launched in 1994 to inform parents of the importance of infants sleeping on their backs.
Many risk factors have been pinpointed, and fortunately there are things you can do to significantly reduce the chances of SIDS.
There has been a lot of controversy about whether babies who sleep in bed with their parents are at greater risk of SIDS. Experts are divided on the subject, with some claiming the risk is up to five times higher with co-sleeping, and others claiming the opposite is true, and that in fact babies are safer sleeping with their parents.
Personally, I believe the safest place for your baby is in her own crib or bassinet. I also believe this is best in order to encourage great independent sleep skills and set up healthy sleeping habits for your child. However, if you do plan to co-sleep, please make sure you do it properly. Avoid having piles of blankets and soft pillows around your baby and make sure you never sleep with your baby when you’ve been using drugs or alcohol.
Take these preventative steps and try to keep in mind that SIDS is very rare so you can relax, enjoy parenthood and get some worry-free sleep at night!
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