What YOU Can Do to Help Reduce the Risk of SIDS

By Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH September 27, 2013
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants one month to one year old. It is not an illness or diagnosis; rather, it is defined as an unexpected, sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that remains unexplained even after an autopsy and thorough medical investigation. Although unexpected, there are precautionary steps that a parent can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Put your baby to sleep on her back (at night and at naps) until she can roll by herself. (Be sure to do plenty of tummy time during the day!)
  • Use a firm mattress and keep the crib clear of any clutter including bumpers, blankets, sleep positioners, pillows, and stuffed animals. To confirm the safety of your baby's mattress or crib, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or
  • Stay up-to-date on your baby’s immunizations. Immunizations have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%.
  • Keep your baby’s room at an ideal temperature for sleeping (68-70 degrees) and dress her in light, comfortable clothes to avoid overheating.
  • Do not let others smoke around your baby. The statistics are frightening: Infants of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are three times more likely to die of SIDS than infants of non-smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases a baby's risk.
  • Offer a pacifier at naps and nighttime during the first year of your baby’s life. If your baby is being breast-fed, wait until she is one month of age to introduce the pacifier. Pacifiers have been linked with a lower risk of SIDS.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping an infant in the same room as her parents (in her own crib or bassinet) for the first six months of the baby’s life. This also has been linked with a lower risk of SIDS.
  • Educate and share information about safe sleep practices with your caregivers, childcare providers, friends, babysitters, and grandparents. You are your baby’s best advocate.
  • According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS should be avoided, per the American Academy of Pediatrics, since they have not been sufficiently tested for safety and effectiveness. The American Academy of Pediatrics also cautions that home monitors should not be considered an effective strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS. While electronic respiratory and cardiac monitors may be used for infants deemed to have extreme cardiorespiratory instability or who have had an apparent life-threatening event involving apnea or other breathing difficulty, there is no evidence that using a home monitor reduces the incidence of SIDS.”
Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions. Below are a few of the many available resources for SIDS prevention:

Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.