Besides making sure your baby is sleeping on their back and creating a safe sleeping environment for them, you can also apply the four tips listed below to further reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Baby Sleep Safety is as Easy as 1-2-3….and 4
1. Breastfeeding Improves Sleep Safety
You may think breastfeeding is unrelated to the quality of your baby’s sleep,
There are two main reasons: the first is that breastfed babies are more likely to wake up mid-sleep than formula-fed babies. Babies who are not sleeping as deeply have a better chance to recover if put in a dangerous situation. The second reason is that the antibodies and nutrients in breast milk can help your baby’s immune system and fight infections in the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract, thereby reducing the chance of SIDS.
Of course, mothers are free to choose whether or not to breastfeed their baby. There are other ways to improve your baby’s sleep safety.
2. Give Your Baby a Pacifier
Did you know that giving your baby a pacifier can also reduce the chance of SIDS. Although the reasons are not completely clear, evidence shows that giving your baby a pacifier can decrease their risk of SIDS by up to 90%. It is speculated that pacifiers can help keep the airway open or regulate babies’ nervous system during sleep.
Some studies have pointed out that even if the pacifier falls out of a baby’s mouth when they fall asleep, it can still provide protection.
Although there are reports that giving your baby a pacifier does not affect breastfeeding, some people still believe that it hinders the breastfeeding process. Therefore, it is recommended that mothers who plan to breastfeed should give their baby pacifiers only after the breastfeeding process is on track.
If you choose to use other methods to feed your baby, the sooner you give your baby a pacifier, the better. In addition, be aware of your baby’s safety when they are using one. For example, do not wrap the pacifier strap around your baby’s neck. If your baby is asleep, do not clip the pacifier onto their clothes to avoid strangulation.
As for the act of babies sucking on their thumbs and putting their hands in their mouths, it’s still up for debate whether it provides the same protection as pacifiers.
3. Refrain From Drinking and Smoking When You Are With Your Baby
Though this is commonplace now, it’s worth reiterating.
Refrain from smoking when pregnant and do not smoke in places where pregnant women or babies are present. Smoking when pregnant may cause premature birth, your baby being born with a low birth weight, and increase the risk of SIDS. Babies who sleep in the same bed as adults that smoke are at the most risk. Babies who sleep with the adults that smoke are at the highest risk of SIDS. Regardless of whether the adult is smoking in bed with the baby or not, smokers carry chemicals on their clothing, hair, and skin, which the baby may inhale while sleeping.
Pregnant women should not drink alcohol due to the harmful effects it may have on the fetus. Drinking alcohol during your pregnancy or within one year of your baby’s birth, may increase the risk of SIDS.
4. Be Safe When Using Swaddles
Swaddles can soothe and help babies sleep, but parents should be careful of two things: First, do not swaddle your baby too tightly, and make sure that your baby’s legs are not stretched out too straight, to prevent affecting the development of their hip joint. Second, when you find that your baby has started to roll over, stop swaddling them. When a baby is using a swaddle and sleeping on their side or front, they may be at high risk of SIDS. The use of the swaddle itself has not been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS, regardless of whether the baby’s hands are tucked inside the swaddle.
Let’s work together to promote baby sleep safety and save babies’ lives.