Decoding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Myths, Realities, and Preventive Measures
SIDS is not what we were told
Sudden Infant Death Syndrom (SIDS) strikes fear into the hearts of every new parent. Rightfully so.
The story we’re always told when it comes to SIDS is truly horrifying. You put your beautiful baby down in bed, healthy as can be. In the morning, you wake up and the child has passed away. There’s no apparent reason and it doesn’t seem to follow any specific pattern.
At least, that’s what we’re told. When you dig deeper, this story doesn’t make much sense.
It’s true. Sometimes things happen that we can’t explain from a medical standpoint. It’s not always easy to figure out the cause of tragedies. The family is understandably upset, doesn’t want to answer questions, or gets defensive. Other times we simply can’t figure it out. Autopsies aren’t that easy.
Every year, about 3,400 children unexpectedly die, according to the CDC. This is further broken down into 3 categories:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Accidental suffocation or strangulation
This means roughly 2,400 deaths per year are due to unknown causes. Every single year. And we can’t figure it out.
The mainstream public health people always sing the same tune. They are downright militant about it, in fact. They insist the cause is unsafe sleeping practices. They demand your child sleep on their back with nothing around them on an ultra-stiff mattress with a fan on and the room between 68 and 72 degrees.
Anyone who has had a child knows how ridiculous that is. Children are incredibly resilient. And good luck getting them to sleep in whatever position you want them to. They’ll sleep however they want.
My advice when it comes to preventing SIDS is pretty simple. Don’t worry about it too much. It’s normal to be nervous. But taking sensible precautions is really all it takes.
Don’t smoke in the house (preferably not at all) - This is always linked to higher rates of SIDS.
Don’t put too many things in the crib/bed - If your baby turns their head and has a pillow laying on their face, you’d better hope they have good head control. It’s best to keep fewer things in the bed, but it doesn’t need to be completely empty in my opinion.
Co-sleep carefully - I personally don’t see anything wrong with co-sleeping when it’s done safely. Mothers tend to naturally cradle their baby and prevent anything from happening. This seems to be an innate talent mothers have. That said, some people are very heavy or active sleepers. People roll onto their babies all the time. If you can’t do it safely, don’t risk it.
Take precautions when they’re sick - If their nose is stuffed, they’re down to breathing through one hole. Doing a simple nasal lavage before bed can help. We were given this thing as a baby shower gift and it actually worked pretty well. Looks gross though.
Be careful if they have allergies/asthma - this one is obvious. If they already struggle to breathe, don’t make the situation worse.
Keep it cool - You don’t want the baby sleeping in a hot room without any air moving. It doesn’t need to be freezing cold, but you should keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
Those are really the basics. Beyond that, you don’t need to do very much. Your baby will be just fine. If you’re a first-time parent you will check if they’re breathing 100 times per night for the first year anyway.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get a little conspiratorial.