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Narrator: Like many parents, Aisha, mom of 4-month-old Hayden, worries about sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
SIDS is the leading cause of death for babies between 1 month and 1 year old in the United States. Babies who are younger than 6 months are at the highest risk.
Thankfully, there are a number of steps Aisha can take to reduce the risk for her son.
Aisha: Hi, Dr. Chung.
Dr. Chung: Hi, Aisha. How are you?
Doctor: How's little Hayden?
Mother: He's great!
Narrator: Dr. Esther Chung, associate professor of pediatrics at Jefferson Medical College and Nemours in Philadelphia, is here to assess the areas where Hayden sleeps. She'll give Aisha valuable tips to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers.
Doctor: SIDS is a worry that most new parents have. And the reason it's called SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is because it's an unexplained death.
Narrator: SIDS is scary because it can happen to anyone. There's no sure way to prevent it, but here's what you can do to reduce your baby's risk.
Tip one: When you put your baby down to sleep, place him on his back. This is safer than on his stomach or on his side, and is comfortable for your baby.
Once your baby can roll from back to front and front to back, it's fine to let him continue sleeping in whatever position he rolls to after you put him down.
No matter when he learns to roll, keep putting your baby to sleep on his back until his first birthday. Everyone who takes care of your baby should do it too.
Tip two: A simple sleep environment is safest.
Use a firm mattress made for your baby's crib or bassinet, covered with a fitted sheet.
Remove all toys and pillows, and don't use crib bumpers, sleep positioners, or wedges.
Car seats, infant carriers, and swings are not recommended for routine sleep.
Mother: So Dr. Chung, right downstairs, we have a bassinet. You want to take a look?
Doctor: Oh, terrific. It'd be nice to be able to see where Hayden sleeps.
This is something that we would consider a stuffed object, and just like with stuffed animals, we wouldn't want you to leave it in the sleep environment when Hayden is sleeping by himself.
This nice snuggly blanket that's all fluffy, we would put it aside and use that for carrying or to keep him warm when he's awake.
Narrator: To keep your baby warm in the crib, don't use a blanket. Instead, use what's called a wearable blanket. This is much safer than having loose material in the crib.
Doctor: You can see that it's made of thin material and that it's zippered into place.
Narrator: A safe sleep environment isn't just about reducing the risk of SIDS.
Doctor: We also want to decrease the risk of suffocation and the risk of entrapment and also make the rest of the environment safe.
Narrator: Make sure your baby's crib doesn't have any missing or broken parts and hasn't been recalled. Drop-side cribs were banned in 2011.
The crib slats should be no farther apart than the width of a dollar bill. Any wider and your baby's head could slip through, leading to injury or suffocation.
Tip three: Don't allow your baby to become overheated. Set your thermostat to a moderate temperature and don't overdress your baby or cover his face or head.
Doctor: So what do you know about how much a baby should be wearing?
Mother: Is it one layer more? I'm not sure.
Doctor: Yeah, terrific!
Narrator: Dress your baby in clothes you'd be comfortable in at that temperature, then add one extra layer, like a wearable blanket.
It's best not to use a regular blanket. If you decide to use one anyway, choose a light, breathable blanket and tuck the edges under the mattress, away from your baby's face.
Tip four: Share a room with your baby but don't share a bed.
Mother: This is where he has been sleeping, right here.
Doctor: This looks like a very safe sleep environment. It's very reachable for you, so that if he gets hungry in the middle of the night, you can easily get up and breastfeed him. And then when he gets sleepy, you can put him down on his back to sleep.
Narrator: Sharing a bed with your baby is risky. It can lead to accidental suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment.
Instead, place your baby's crib or bassinet in your room near your bed. This arrangement may reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
Tip five: Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. Try to breastfeed your baby for at least six months, but any amount of breastfeeding is better than none.
It's important to stay alert when breastfeeding or giving your baby a bottle. If you fall asleep with your baby, the risk of SIDS goes up – especially if you're on a couch or recliner.
Doctor: Whether it's turning on some music, or singing to yourself or your baby –anything that you can think of to keep yourself alert and awake while you're nursing – that would be helpful.
Narrator: As a backup plan, you may want to set an alarm in case you fall asleep.
Tip six: Once your newborn has the hang of breastfeeding, consider offering him a pacifier when you put him down to sleep.
Pacifiers have been found to have a protective effect against SIDS. The protection lasts for the entire sleep period, even if the pacifier falls out of your baby's mouth.
Don't force your baby to take a pacifier if he resists. It's fine to try again another time.
Not all babies will accept a pacifier. If yours doesn't, don't worry.
Tip seven: Guard your baby's health before and after birth.
While you're pregnant, get regular prenatal care and don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs.
Once your baby's born, don't allow smoking or drug use around him.
Finally, follow the recommended vaccination schedule for your baby, which can also reduce the risk of SIDS.
Doctor: You're already off to a great start. You've done a lot of terrific things. And hopefully some of the pointers that we went over will help to make Hayden's sleep environment a little safer.
Mother: Thank you so much again.
Doctor: Great seeing you. Take care.
Mother: It's bedtime now. Time for sleep!