Preventing SIDS: How to Keep Your Baby Safe

by Elizabeth Peters July 25, 2016

Preventing SIDS: How to Keep Your Baby Safe

The thought of SIDS can be terrifying, but there are precautions that you can take to greatly reduce the chances of SIDS and keep your baby safe. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) strikes fear into parents everywhere and is the reason for countless 3 A.M. crib checks to be sure that baby is still breathing. 

Ensure a Safe Sleeping Environment for Baby

It is suspected that many SIDS deaths are caused by suffocation or strangulation due to a baby being placed to sleep in an unsafe sleeping environment. It is important to be sure to always put a baby to sleep in a safe area. Follow these guidelines when putting a baby to sleep:

• Use a firm sleep surface that is approved for babies, such as a crib mattress in a crib or a basinet mattress in a basinet. Avoid letting a baby sleep on soft surfaces, such as sofas or adult beds.

• Avoid allowing your baby to co-sleep with you or any other adult or siblings.

• Keep the baby’s sleep area free of soft objects such as pillows or stuffed animals. Any blankets and crib bumpers should also be removed.

• Make sure that the baby’s crib or basinet is not positioned near any string or rope, such as the cord to a blind, as they can be strangulation hazards.

Place Your Baby to Sleep on His Back

You have undoubtedly heard of the back to sleep campaign to help reduce the risk of SIDS. This campaign has been successful in cutting the rate of SIDS related deaths in half over the last two decades.

It is important that you always place your baby to sleep on his back in a safe sleeping environment - even for naps. Once your baby begins to roll over, try not to freak out. It is OK to let him sleep on his tummy if he naturally rolls over in his sleep. Just be sure to always start out by placing him on his back.

Let Your Baby Sleep With a Pacifier

While not every baby takes a pacifier, if your baby enjoys laying down with his pacifier you should let him. Studies have shown a reduced risk of SIDS in babies who sleep with a pacifier. Doctors have contributed this to the fact that the sucking motion helps keep the brain active.

However, you should never lay a baby down with a pacifier that is on a string or any other attachment device.

Stop Smoking

Smoking around a baby is the number one contributor to SIDS. Make sure that no one smokes inside the home or anywhere that the baby is on a regular basis, such as the car.

Smoking during pregnancy is also dangerous as it may alter the baby’s brain in a way that makes him more susceptible to SIDS.

Place a Fan in Your Baby’s Room

It sounds strange, but running a fan in a baby’s room has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. This is contributed to SIDS being linked to poor air circulation and overheating.
One study found a 72% decrease in the risk of SIDS when a fan was being utilized in the room where the baby is sleeping. The white noise produced by a fan can also be comforting to a baby and help him sleep peacefully.

Breastfeed if You Can

Breastfeeding has been associated with reducing the risk of SIDS. Not every woman is able to breastfeed and that’s OK, just follow the rest of the guidelines on this list and you will be keeping your baby safe.

The Good News

The good news is that SIDS is very rare and the odds of your baby succumbing to it are very, very small. Worry and stress are part of the package when we become parents, but practicing safe sleep habits with your baby by avoiding co-sleeping, placing him to sleep in a safe environment, and not smoking around him will keep him safe and greatly reduce the chances of SIDS.

Elizabeth Peters
Elizabeth Peters


Elizabeth Peters is a mother of two and freelance writer who specializes in the parenting/family niche. When she is not writing for clients she can be found blogging about parenting on her own blog at She currently resides in Alabama with her husband and two young children. Connect with her on Twitter: @themommyvortex

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