5 Tips For Battling Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is an uncommon sleep disorder that usually affects children under the age of 1. We spoke to John Long, M.D., of Old Harding Pediatric Associates in Nashville, Tennessee, for one approach to the medical problems from which you or your loved ones may suffer when trying to sleep.

If you are concerned about SIDS, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Shellie Braeuner

SIDS is the unexplained death of a child under the age of 1. In a typical SIDS scenario, a parent checks on who they believe is a sleeping child, only to find that the baby is dead. Subsequent medical exams find no reason for the child’s death.

Lay Sleeping Infants On Their Backs

Dr. Long suggests that children under the age of 1 should sleep on their backs on a firm surface. Do not place a sleeping child on his front or prop the baby on his side. The child may roll and block his airway. Make sure the mattress is hard enough that the child doesn’t sink into the mattress.

Infants Must Sleep Alone

Dr. Long advises parents not to allow infants under the age of 1 to co-sleep or share a bed with an adult or older child. The child should sleep in a crib or bassinette, both of which can be placed in the parents' room depending on preference.

Empty The Crib

Remove all bedding from the crib, except for a single fitted crib mattress sheet. Dr. Long tells parents to remove toys, blankets, top sheets and quilts from the bed. "These are hazards to the baby," he advises. "Swaddle a newborn and dress an older infant in comfortable pajamas for the room's temperature."

Use A Pacifier

"We now advise parents to give the baby a pacifier while sleeping," Dr. Long says. "Studies have shown a decrease of SIDS in babies who use pacifiers."

Use A Fan

Dr. Long advises parents to use a fan in the baby's room during sleep. "This keeps air moving for the baby," he says. "It also prevents the child from overheating."

John Long, M.D., is a second-generation pediatrician at the prestigious Old Harding Pediatric Associates in Nashville, Tennessee. He studied undergraduate medicine at Duke University and earned his doctorate at Vanderbilt University, then completed his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Dr. Long has received the Amos Christie Award at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for Excellence in Pediatrics, the Vanderbilt Hospital Award for Excellence and the Canby Robison Society Ideal Physician Award.

Do you have any experience with SIDS? What tips can you share?