Parents no longer have to lose sleep over Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) thanks to the latest research findings, and they can take a proactive role in reducing both the worry and risk involved for their infant. SIDS appears to result from a combination of various factors including breathing difficulties, underdevelopment of baby’s cardio-respiratory control functions, dangerous sleeping habits, and various medical conditions. Dr. William Sears, father of eight and a practicing pediatrician for over 30 years, suggests that the following SIDS risk lowering steps can help parents can reduce the risk and create a nurturing, safe, and comfortable environment for their little one, both pre-natally and post-natally.
The first step, according to Dr. Sears, is giving your baby a healthy womb environment. Although the SIDS risk in premature babies is higher, the good news is that over 99 percent of premature infants don’t die of SIDS and that mothers-to-be can take pre-emptive steps to lessen their baby’s risk to SIDS with smart prenatal choices. He advises getting good prenatal care, feeding yourself properly with lots of high-nutrition foods, and giving your baby a drug-free and smoke-free womb are three great ways to decrease the risk.
He also advises keeping your baby comfortably warm, but not too warm. Over-bundling, and consequently overheating, has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS. Overheating may disrupt the normal neurological control of sleep and breathing. The respiratory control center in the brain is affected by abnormal changes in temperature, and SIDS researchers believe that overheating may cause respiratory control centers in some babies to fail.
Make sure your baby’s head is uncovered, and put your baby to sleep on his side or back. When baby sleeps on her stomach, or prone, with her cheek and abdominal organs against the bedding, these prime areas of heat release are covered, thus conserving heat. Also, never bundle a sick baby, as babies who are sick tend to have fevers, and bundling only increases body temperature. Keep the room temperature where your baby sleeps around 68 degrees, unless you have a preterm or newborn weighing less than eight pounds; then you might want to increase the temperature by a few degrees. As a general guide, dress and cover your infant in as much, or as little, clothing and blankets as you would put on yourself. Then, let your hands be a thermostat. Babies who are overheated tend to be more restless as well.