According to Hauck, who helped write the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines about SIDS, parents should:
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy and after birth.
- Place the baby on his/her back every time he/she is put to sleep.
- Use a firm sleep surface, with no soft objects or loose bedding in the crib."Putting a baby into an empty crib looks awful, like you are torturing them," Hauck acknowledges. "But the truth is, the babies don't really care." All that comfy stuff is really for the parents, she says.
Share bedrooms but not beds. Many SIDS researchers believe an uptick in bed sharing may explain the plateauing of SIDS rates in developed countries. They report that 50 to 70 percent of new SIDS cases in the past few years have occurred in a bed-sharing scenario.
"We're now in the position we were 20 years ago with sleeping prone," Carpenter says. "If we could get rid of bed sharing, the whole picture could change with SIDS. That's our hope."
- Practice breast-feeding. No one is sure why this helps, but breast-fed babies have a lower risk.
- Consider using a pacifier for naps and bedtime (after the first month, if the baby is breast-feeding).
- Avoid overheating the baby and the baby's room.
- Follow the routine immunization schedule.
- Finally, avoid products marketed as reducing the risk of SIDS. (None have been proved to do so.)