You’ve birthed a new human, and instead of basking in how amazing your new tiny person is and how cuddly they are, you’re immediately hit with all of these fears you didn’t know you had. And all sorts of questions pop into your head and you immediately question everything you’ve ever known. When I delivered both of my girls, the hospital staff talked about safe sleep and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Quite honestly, I was terrified of SIDS. But one thing the hospital never told me was how common is SIDs and how to start reducing anxiety about SIDs. I wish they had.
And if hospitals won’t do it, then I will.
How common is SIDS
I’m not going to bore you with all of the stats and numbers about SIDS, because honestly, it’s not helpful. Especially if you’re already terrified of SIDS like I was as a new parent. Here’s what you need to know:
- Roughly 4 million babies are born in the US every year.
- There are about 1,600 SIDS deaths in the US every year.
- That means, 0.04% of infants die from SIDS annually.
Yes. You read that right- the percentage of infants that die from SIDS is 0.04%. When you see that percentage, it’s a lot less scary, isn’t it?
A lot of the articles you see online only mention the 1,600 deaths or that SIDS is a leading cause of infant mortality, and without perspective, both of those facts are scary. It’s not until you look at the total number of babies born every year that you honestly see how common is SIDS.
Reducing Anxiety About SIDS
I suffered from severe undiagnosed postpartum anxiety and depression after the birth of my first child. So, when you say ‘I’m terrified of SIDS, and I can’t sleep at night because I’m afraid my baby will stop breathing.’ I get it. I understand because I’ve been there.
Here’s what I did to help reduce my anxiety about SIDS:
- Remind yourself that SIDS is very rare, your child has approximately a .04% chance of being affected by SIDS. Put it on a sticky note in your bathroom if you need to.
- Take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of SIDS, because if you do, the rate drops even more.
- Keep in mind that many of the stories on social media are not true SIDS, especially if they involve anything like a blanket or sleep positioner.
I don’t want you to feel like your fears are not valid. SIDS is very real and a tragic thing that can happen to any child. We know how common is SIDS, and it is very rare.
What can I do to prevent SIDS?
Now I bet you’re thinking, ‘Ok, but there’s still 0.04% risk of SIDS, so what can I do?’
Understand that SIDS cannot be 100% prevented- I want to make that clear. But there are some general strategies you can implement that will significantly decrease the risk from 0.04%.
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep for bedtime and nap time.
- Use a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress. For more general crib safety, check out Crib Safety Tips Everyone Should Know.
- Remove all loose bedding, such as pillows, quilts, stuffed toys and other soft items from the crib.
- Don’t let your baby become too warm.
- Make sure your baby’s head is uncovered.
- Don’t smoke while pregnant.
- Don’t smoke around your baby and don’t let anyone else smoke around your baby.
- Don’t use bumper pads in cribs due to suffocation or strangulation hazards.
- Breastfeed your baby. Studies show breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Consider offering a pacifier after breastfeeding is established, at bedtime and at nap time.
- Room-share with your baby, without bed-sharing.
- Don’t use products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS, including wedges and positioners.
- Take your baby for their well-child appointments, including vaccinations.
- Maintain a safe sleep environment – safety-approved crib, fitted sheet, and firm mattress. If safe co-sleeping is interesting to you, check out exactly how we set up our bedroom.
About Plush things and Cribs
In numbers 3,8,12 above you saw mention of bumper pads, loose blankets, stuffed animals, sleep positioners, and so on. I want to chat a bit more about those things because honestly, I still get baffled when I hop on Facebook and see how many babies have bumper pads and stuffed animals in their beds.
It is CRITICAL that infants have NOTHING in the crib except a tight-fitting swaddle and a pacifier. If babies get something on their face or accidentally roll over into something like a stuffed animal or crib bumper, they have no way to move themselves or the object. So they will suffocate. This isn’t SIDS; it’s suffocation.
Infants that are not mobile (meaning they don’t have good muscular control and cannot sit up) cannot move things away from their face or even roll over. They can’t do it.
Please Stop Doing This
So please, for the love of all things, STOP PUTTING UNNECESSARY THINGS IN YOUR CHILD’S CRIB. I don’t care if it looks cute, or great-grandma Jane made them that beautiful crochet blanket, don’t do it. It’s not worth the risk.
And because I know someone is thinking it, just because stores sell those bumper pads or fluffy infant bedding, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Amazon does not care about the safety of your child. They care about making money. It’s up to you to be knowledgeable enough to do the research (like reading this post), and understand what’s best for your child.
I know you want to be the best parent you can be. Sign up below and grab the No Panic Emergency Handbook for Parents. It’s got tons of first aid and safety resources.
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