Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby
younger than 1 year old. SIDS is sometimes called crib death. This is because the
death may happen when the baby is sleeping in a crib. SIDS is one of the leading causes
of death in babies from ages 1 month to 1 year. It happens most often between 2 and 4
months old. SIDS and other types of sleep-related infant deaths have similar risk
Researchers don't know the exact cause of SIDS. Studies have shown that some babies
who die from SIDS have the following:
Most babies who die from SIDS and other sleep-related deaths have one or more risk
factors. Some risk factors can be prevented. There are many risk factors for SIDS.
They may include the following:
There are no symptoms or warning signs of SIDS that can be used to prevent it.
The diagnosis of SIDS is made when the cause of death is unexplained after a full
investigation. An investigation includes:
There is no specific treatment for SIDS.
There is no way to tell which babies will die from SIDS. But known risk factors for
SIDS and other sleep-related deaths can be controlled by:
Getting prenatal care. Early and regular prenatal care can help reduce the risk for SIDS. You should also
follow a healthy diet and not smoke or use drugs or alcohol while you are pregnant.
These things may reduce the chance of having a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
Premature or low-birth-weight babies are at higher risk for SIDS.
Putting babies on their back for sleep and naps. Babies should be placed on their back for all sleeping until they are 1 year old. Don't
lay your baby down on their side or belly for sleep or naps.
Not using sitting devices for routine sleep. Infant seats, car seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings are not advised
for routine sleep. These may lead to blockage of a baby's airway or suffocation. If
your baby is in a sitting device, remove them from the device and put them in the
crib or other appropriate flat surface as soon as is safe and practical.
Putting babies in other positions while they are awake. Putting your baby in other positions helps your baby grow stronger. It also helps
prevent your baby from having a misshaped head. When your baby is awake, hold your
baby. Give your baby time on their tummy while awake and supervised for short periods
of time beginning soon after coming home from the hospital. Slowly increase tummy
time to at least 15 to 30 minutes each day by 7 weeks old. Try not to let your baby
sit in a seat or swing for long periods of time.
Using correct bedding. Your baby should sleep on a firm, flat mattress or firm surface with no slant. Cover
the mattress with a fitted sheet. Don’t use fluffy blankets or comforters. Don’t let
your baby sleep on a waterbed, air mattress, sofa, sheepskin, pillow, or other soft
material. Don’t put soft toys, pillows, or bumper pads in the crib.
Not overheating. Keep your baby warm but not too warm. The temperature in your baby’s room should
feel comfortable to you. Don't overbundle, overdress, or cover a baby's face or head.
Don't put a hat on your baby when indoors.
Sharing a room. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that babies sleep close to the parent's
bed, but in a separate crib or bassinet for babies. This is advised ideally for the
baby's first year. But you should do this at least for the first 6 months.
Not sharing a bed. Don't put your baby to sleep in a bed with other children. Don’t put your baby to
sleep on a sofa, either alone or with another person. Don't share your bed with your
baby, especially if you are using alcohol or other drugs. You can bring your baby
to your bed for feedings and comforting. But return your baby to the crib for sleep. Bed
sharing is also not advised for twins or other multiples.
Not allowing smoking around your baby. The risk of SIDS is higher for babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. Don’t
smoke when you are pregnant and don’t let anyone smoke around your baby. Babies and
young children exposed to smoke have more colds and other diseases. They also have
a higher risk for SIDS.
Taking your baby for checkups and vaccines. If your baby seems sick, call your baby’s healthcare provider. Take your baby in
for regular well-baby checkups and routine shots. Some studies show that fully vaccinating
your child lowers the risk for SIDS.
Breastfeeding your baby. Give your baby only human milk for at least 6 months, unless your healthcare provider
tells you otherwise. This means no water, sugar water, juice, or formula, unless your
baby’s healthcare provider tells you to do so. Experts advise continuing to use human
milk for feed for 1 year or longer. This depends on if both you and your baby want
to do this. Using human milk for a year or longer reduces the risk for SIDS and many
other health problems.
Thinking aboutgiving your baby a pacifier during sleep time. You may give your baby a pacifier during routine sleep and nap time once breastfeeding
is well-established. This is often after the first few weeks. But don’t hang pacifiers
around your baby's neck. Don’t attach pacifiers to your baby’s clothing, stuffed toys,
or other objects.
Not using positioning devices and home cardiorespiratory monitors. Don't use wedges, positioners, or special mattresses to help decrease the risk for
SIDS and sleep-related infant death. These devices have not been shown to prevent
SIDS. In rare cases, they have resulted in infant death. Cardiorespiratory monitors
sold for home use are also not helpful in preventing SIDS.
Always placing cribs, bassinets, and play yards in hazard-free areas. Be sure there are no hanging cords, wires, or window curtains nearby. This reduces
the risk for strangulation.
If you or someone else in your home smokes, talk with your healthcare provider about
quitting. If you have any questions or concerns about SIDS risk factors, talk with
your baby’s healthcare provider.