What is SIDS?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected death of a baby who previously seemed healthy. The death occurs during sleep for no clear reason. That's why it’s sometimes called crib death.
SIDS most often happens in babies 2 to 4 months old but can occur up to 1 year
Doctors don’t know what causes SIDS but think it might be related to how babies' brains control breathing
Putting babies to sleep on their back and keeping pillows and bumpers out of the crib may help prevent SIDS
It's common for parents and caregivers to feel shock, grief, and guilt—doctors may suggest counseling and support groups by people who are trained to help these parents cope
What causes SIDS?
Doctors don't know for sure what causes SIDS. It probably involves problems with the parts of the brain that control breathing and heartbeat.
However, certain babies are more likely to have SIDS, including those who:
Sleep on their stomach (biggest single risk)
Sleep in their parents' bed
Sleep in very soft bedding
Are boys, Black, and/or Native American
Have mothers who are single, under age 20, or have smoked cigarettes or used street drugs during pregnancy
Have a low-income family
Have a brother or sister who died of SIDS
How can I prevent SIDS?
To lower the risk of SIDS:
Place your baby on his or her back for naps and night sleeping
Use a firm mattress in your baby's crib—don't sleep with your baby on a sofa or in your bed
Keep soft objects, like toys, blankets, pillows, and loose bedding, away from your sleeping baby
Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke
Have your baby sleep in an area separate from you, but nearby
If your baby uses a pacifier, offer a clean, dry one at bedtime
Make sure your baby isn't too hot while sleeping
Don't depend on a baby monitor to help prevent SIDS.
Are there resources for parents who have lost an infant to SIDS?
Counseling and support from specially trained doctors and nurses and other parents who have lost an infant to SIDS are critical to helping parents cope with the tragedy. Specialists can recommend reading materials, web sites (such as the American SIDS Institute), and support groups to assist parents.