Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, can strike between birth and 12 months. While the cause of SIDS is not yet known, the way you put your baby to sleep affects the potential for SIDS. Putting your baby to bed isn't just the manner in which you lay him in the crib, however. It's also the physical space in which he sleeps that may have an impact on his risk for SIDS.
Lay your baby down to sleep on her back. Tiny babies don't have the physical ability to hold their necks up and can suffocate if placed on their stomachs. Babies also inadvertently could roll over to their stomachs and be unable to roll back if placed on their sides. Crib bumpers or rolled-up receiving blankets that aim to prevent a child from rolling instead can increase the potential for SIDS; that's because a baby who rolls or otherwise moves into one of these items might have his breathing blocked.
What the Baby Wears
Put your baby to sleep in pajamas that don't have a cord. Some infant sleep wear, called sleep sacks, have a cord in the hem to snug the baby into them. Cords, however, are choking and strangulation hazards. Don't use too heavy a cover on your baby; avoid making her hot and sweaty. If she's flushed, has a heat rash or breathes rapidly, she's too hot, which increases the risk of SIDS.
Use a crib approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which certifies safety for children's products. Use a firm mattress and keep the crib free of stuffed toys, pillows, bumpers and extra blankets, as they are all potential suffocation hazards. Don't allow cigarette smoking in the room in which your baby sleeps. Nicotine interferes with the protein in your baby's brain that's responsible for regulating breathing. Keep your baby's room at a temperature that's comfortable for you in shirtsleeves.
SIDS deaths occur more often when a baby is being cared for by someone other than a parent. Make sure grandparents, child-care providers, baby sitters or any other care-givers know to put your baby to sleep on her back, never her stomach. This sleeping position is key, not just at night, but also during daytime naps.