Few things send a chill down a new parent's spine like the specter of sudden infant death syndrome. For decades, the SIDS rate has hovered at 1 in 1,800 babies. At the same time, the number of infant deaths that are attributable to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed has tripled. Although not all sleep-related infant deaths can be explained, you can significantly reduce your baby's risk by diligently following these steps.
Do this for naps too. The carbon dioxide Baby exhales will be less likely to get trapped near his face.
Studies show that about half of all suffocation deaths among infants happen in an adult bed. You could roll over on Baby, and not realize it; plus, pillows and blankets pose additional dangers.
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When babies who died from SIDS have been discovered, their body temperature has often been very high. Experts believe that overheating may affect a baby's arousal mechanism. Keep the room around 68 degrees F. Worried she'll be cold? Try a sleep sack, a blanket that zips around her body but leaves her arms and head exposed. And turn on a fan. A study at Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, California, found that babies who slept in a room with a fan had more than a 70 percent reduced risk for SIDS. The airflow could keep carbon dioxide from building up around Baby's face.
Unless your baby has a diagnosed cardiac or respiratory illness, using an electronic breathing monitor doesn't help, studies show -- and it may actually give parents a misguided sense of security. Devices marketed to reduce carbon dioxide rebreathing, such as crib mattresses with built-in fans, are also not proven to be effective. And avoid wedge-shaped sleep positioners that claim to keep your baby on her back: An infant can slide off and suffocate against it.
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