Sunday, July 15, 2007

How Should My Baby Sleep to Prevent SIDS?

If you read enough information about SIDS prevention, you will get the idea that we are trying to save babies by keeping them as uncomfortable as possible! Surely, if we keep babies cold ("don't overheat") and lay them flat on their backs (Back to Sleep Campaign) they will never fall into a deep sleep, and will never NOT wake up if they aren't in a deep sleep. Right? Oh, I forgot; we are also supposed to lay them on a rock hard mattress! That should help.

Seriously, what ARE we supposed to do? I remember when my son was a newborn and we could not get him to sleep. It turns out that he was a high needs baby who would have been labeled "colicky" by most parents who like labeling their children. Nevertheless, it was a nightmare trying to get him to sleep. I discovered that the only way he would sleep well (or at all) was if we placed him on his stomach. Yes, I worried over this. I got on the internet. I asked the doctor, who told me incorrectly that because he could move his head well, was a good size, and apparently healthy, that he would be fine sleeping on his stomach. But I never felt okay about it until he was over a year, and by that time he was sleeping on his back.

Is it ever okay to put a baby on his tummy to sleep? Believe it or not, it is. But only when the baby's mattress is wrapped with a BabeSafe mattress cover. This product is a lifesaver for many parents just like me who have picky babies that want to be on their tummies!

The other suggestion, "keep your baby cool to prevent overheating," is a good one. I don't know about you, but I don't like being cold! I certainly don't like being cold while trying to sleep. This suggestion leads parents to believe that 1) swaddling is not okay, and 2) overheating causes SIDS. First, swaddling your baby is one of the best ways to make her feel secure. You can swaddle her with thin blankets during the summer, and on especially warm days, swaddle her with just a diaper on. During the winter, make your baby comfortable according to the temperature in your house, and close the heat vent in his room. The ROOM should be cool- NOT the baby. You will never overheat your baby if he is dressed warmly and the room is cool. A cool room is the best room for anyone to sleep, and the same goes for babies.

Second, overheating does not cause SIDS. It is a risk factor, but focusing too much on risk factors keeps focus off the big picture. The big picture is that no one seems to know (after decades of research and billions of dollars spent) exactly what causes SIDS. And the ones who offer a pretty fair assessment, like Jim Sprott and Barry Richardson, are ignored.

I'm not going to tell you it's okay to start smoking, you should stop breastfeeding, it's okay to throw a blanket over your baby, or that your baby should sleep on his tummy. What I am going to tell you is that the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT SIDS is to put a BabeSafe mattress cover on his mattress. Based on the toxic gas explanation for crib death, the mattress cover prevents toxic gases that are coming from the mattress from reaching your baby. With a BabeSafe mattress cover, your baby CAN sleep on his tummy, and you can sleep at night knowing that he is safe and comfortable. And that is how EVERY baby should sleep!