Q. My 3-month-old daughter is still waking up several times throughout the night. Several of my friends have suggested putting her to sleep on her stomach and using a home crib monitor that will monitor her breathing. Is this safe?
A. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is defined as an unexpected death of an infant who is younger than one and for which the cause remains unknown after an investigation and autopsy. SIDS is the most common cause of death in children ages 1 month to 1 year. In the United States, an estimated 2,500 infants die from SIDS each year.
Over the past several decades, researchers have looked extensively at SIDS, potential causes and how to reduce the risk in infants. New parents should be aware of these risks and know how to create a safe sleep environment:
Back to sleep – every time. Infants should always be placed on their backs to sleep, both at naptime and nighttime. Since 1994, when the Back to Sleep campaign was launched, SIDS deaths have decreased a remarkable 50 percent.
Place your baby on a firm sleep surface (such as a crib mattress) with a fitted sheet. Don't use pillows, sleep positioners or blankets.
Do not over dress or keep the room too warm. Overheating increases the risk of SIDS.
Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
Encourage pacifier use during sleep.
Breastfeed if possible.
Keep baby’s crib in parents’ room for the first several months.
Vaccinate . Infants who are immunized have a lower incidence of SIDS
Give baby tummy time when awake.
Recently, infant sleep monitors have become available on the commercial market.
These monitors are motion sensors placed under the crib mattress that will alarm if no movement is detected over a 20-second period.
These products are not medical devices and most of them have not been tested for efficacy and safety. The use of such home monitors has not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS and aren't a substitute for a safe sleep environment.
Parents and all caregivers should follow these guidelines to prevent SIDS. For more information, visit sids.org.