While it's scary to think about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), you can help protect against it. Take these precautions.
- Put your baby to sleep on his back. Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended that infants be placed on their back to sleep, the number of cases of SIDS has dropped by more than 50 percent.
- Don't smoke. Babies who live in homes where a parent smokes are twice as likely to die of SIDS.
- Think twice about co-sleeping. The more people who share a bed with a baby, the higher her risk of SIDS. Why? An infant can become trapped between the mattress and bed frame and suffocate, or someone can inadvertently roll over onto her.
- Choose a firm crib mattress, and skip the soft bedding. In one study, infants using a less rigid mattress were five times more likely to die of SIDS than those sleeping on a harder surface. Also clear the crib of stuffed animals.
- Dress your baby lightly. Since overheating is a risk factor, don't dress your little one too warmly, and keep her room at 68 degrees.
- Consider using a pacifier. Studies have found that babies who use a pacifier in their cribs are at a lower risk for SIDS.