Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) sounds frightening to every parent. This is based on the facts that its cause is not known and it strikes without warning, usually in perfectly healthy babies.
SIDS (also known as cot death) is the sudden death of an apparently healthy baby.Such death is usually unexpected, neither can it be explained. It happens to babies between the ages of 1 month – 12 months. These unexpected deathsusually occur at night, though it can also occur in the day when a baby is asleep.
As already mentioned, the causeof SIDSis unknown. However,with studies and research, experts had put together acombination of factors which they believe could make a baby vulnerable.These factors range from premature birth andlow birth weightto environmental stresses. These environmental stresses include illness, tobacco smoke, breathing obstruction, cot related-accidents like hyperthermia (overheating of the body), and not ensuring a safe sleep environment for your baby.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent SIDS. Nonetheless,there is good news to every parent whose baby is at risk. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your baby’s risk.These are as follows:
- Place your baby on his or her back to sleep in a cot.
- Place your baby in the cot with his or her feet touching the end of the cot. This is called the “feet to foot” position.
- Always place baby to sleep on a firm, flat safety-approved mattress. Furthermore, keep blankets, quilts, pillows, and soft toys away to avoid suffocation.
- Don’t let your baby get too hot or too cold. To avoid hyperthermia, just use a fitted bed sheet in cot. Remember also to keep your baby’s head uncovered while awake and during sleep.
- It is advisable not to smoke during pregnancy, neither should you let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
- Don’t place your baby with another child or an adult in the same bed to sleep.
- Never lie on the same bed with your baby when you are exhausted or you are on a medication that can cause drowsiness or if you have been drinking alcohol.
- It is advisable to breastfeed your baby if you can, as this increases his or her resistance to infections.
- Immunize Your Baby. This is very important for the general well-being of your baby.
- Offer your baby a pacifier (dummy) while asleep, that is if he or she accepts. Don’t force it if baby rejects it.
- See your doctor as soon as you suspect your baby is unwell.
In conclusion, it is pertinent to state here that even after taking as many precautions as possible,a baby can still die from SIDS. Where this happens, you may find yourself being laden with a feeling of guilt, anger anddespair. Inasmuch as these feelings are normal, you don’t have to beat yourself up. Just remember that SIDS cannot be prevented and when it happens, it’s nobody’s fault.