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Faded closeup of a baby sleeping in a crib

Prevent Sleep-Related Infant Deaths

By: Dr. Suzanne Brixey, General Booth Pediatrics

Eighteen infants died from unsafe sleeping conditions last year in Eastern Virginia alone. Nationally, there were thousands more sleep-related infant deaths. These preventable tragedies continue to be the leading cause of infant death.

Following these guidelines can help keep your baby safe:

Back to sleep.
Follow the ABCs. Always place your baby on their Back, Alone, in a Crib, every time – naps and bedtime. No exceptions.

Be awake and alert.
Falling asleep while holding your infant increases their risk of injury and falling asleep on the couch is especially dangerous for your baby. Place your baby back in the crib to sleep safely or ask for help so you can rest.

Firm sleep surface.
A firm crib, bassinet, or playpen mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet is the best sleeping surface. Never put your baby to sleep on a sofa, waterbed, adult bed, or in a car seat, bouncer, or any other surface not intended for sleeping.

No soft objects or loose bedding.
Remove any bumper pads, pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, or other soft objects from your baby’s crib.

No bed sharing.
Never share your bed with your baby. Instead, keep your baby nearby in a crib or bassinet close to you for monitoring. Your baby should sleep in your room for at least six months.

Studies show that breastfeeding your baby is protective and can reduce the risk of SIDS.

No smoking.
Don’t let anyone smoke around you before or after your baby is born. Smoking and secondhand smoke put your baby at greater risk of SIDS.

Avoid overheating your baby.
Infants should be lightly clothed for sleep and the bedroom temperature should be kept comfortable for an adult who is lightly clothed.

Use a pacifier or offer a pacifier.
A pacifier without a string attached is okay to help an infant fall asleep but just for the first 10-12 months and should not be reinserted once the infant falls asleep. A pacifier should never be forced on an infant who doesn’t want it. If you are breastfeeding, make sure your breastfeeding routine is well established before introducing the pacifier. This usually takes about a month.

Never use products marketed to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
None have been tested sufficiently to prove they are safe or effective.

Start the conversation.
Talk to anyone caring for your infant about the importance of safe sleep.

Additional resources on safe sleep can be found at these links:

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.