The following was written by Susan Pfeifer, program manager for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Strengthening Families program, for the department’s blog, Your Reliable Source:
October is SIDS Awareness Month. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of babies under the age of 1. In Pierce County, SIDS is one of the top 3 causes of infant death. Nationwide, about 3,500 infants die from SIDS each year.
These numbers are alarming, but you can take steps to help prevent SIDS.
FOLLOW THE ABCS OF SAFE SLEEP
Ensure your baby has a safe place to sleep. Your baby should sleep:
- Alone—Place your baby in a safe, separate sleep surface. Your baby shouldn’t sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair.
- Back—Every time you put your baby down to sleep, remember, backside down. Do not place your baby on their tummy or side.
- Crib—A safe crib has a firm, flat surface (a mattress in a safety-approved crib). The mattress should be covered by a fitted sheet and have no other bedding or soft items.
KEEP YOUR BABY SAFE
These additional steps protect your baby from SIDS, encourage parental bonding and improve your family’s health:
- Room share—When you sleep, have your baby sleep in your room. This is different than bed sharing. Babies still need their own safe sleep surface that follows the ABCs of safe sleep.
- Breastfeed—Breastfeeding your baby reduces the risk of SIDS and has many other health benefits.
- Try a pacifier— Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. You shouldn’t force a pacifier. If it falls out during sleep, you don’t need to be put back in.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drug use—When you drink, use illegal drugs and marijuana, or smoke during pregnancy (and after birth), you increase the risk for SIDS. It hurts your baby when others in your household smoke.
SUPPORT FOR INFANT LOSS
The loss of an infant is unimaginable and overwhelming. People who have experienced that profound loss need the support of close friends and family. Learn about support for SUID/SIDS.
Safe sleep is important to the City of Tacoma, too. On Oct. 29, Mayor Victoria Woodards plans to proclaim October as SIDS Awareness Month in the city.