OKLAHOMA CITY – October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) awareness month. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) wants all parents of new babies to know that there are steps they can take to protect their children from the risk posed by SIDS.
“All Oklahoma parents want to be the best mom or dad they can be, and that includes protecting their children from these risks,” said James Craig, Public Health Social Work Coordinator and Infant Safe Sleep Coordinator for OSDH. “Part of my role as Infant Safe Sleep Coordinator is to communicate the most accurate and up-to-date information as possible to parents on these protective measures they can take to reduce the risk associated with sleep-related infant deaths.”
Skin-to-skin contact for newborns for 60 minutes a day for the first three months of life is a great bonding experience for mothers and fathers, and has been shown to be protective against SIDS as well providing the baby with greater success at regulating their heartbeat and breathing. Skin-to-skin contact with the parent can also increase success with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding, when possible for the first year of life, has been shown to be another protective factor against SIDS, and provides a wide variety of benefits to the baby as well.
One of the simplest ways to protect newborns and keep infants safe while sleeping is to make sure they are sleeping in a safe environment without anything else in the sleep space with them, with the exception of a pacifier. Pacifier use (after breastfeeding is established) has also been shown to be a protective factor against the risk of SIDS.
While this means that babies do need to sleep in their own sleep space such as a crib, portable crib (also known as a pack-n-play), or bassinet, sharing the room with the baby is also a protective action parents can take both to decrease the infant’s SIDS risk and to better respond to and be alerted to the baby’s need for feeding, changing, comfort, and other needs.
Keeping the babies’ environment free of tobacco use, either through secondhand exposure or the thirdhand residue in clothes and surfaces in the environment that have absorbed these chemicals is key, as along with alcohol use, tobacco use is one of the most highly correlated risks associated with Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID).
Finally, using sleep sacks (also known as wearable blankets) instead of swaddling with a blanket can both eliminate any loose bedding in the crib, and assist with keeping them safe against any concerns about overheating since that is a risk factor directly linked to SIDS. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) currently partners with 28 birthing hospitals in Oklahoma to provide sleep sacks to each baby born into the majority of Oklahoma hospitals.
Visit www.health.ok.gov to learn more.