Have you heard about SIDS before? It stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This is when a child dies suddenly without any apparent reason while still under a year of age.
According to the CDC roughly 900 infants die in the United States each year from accidental suffocation while sleeping.
Although SIDS can occur outside of cribs, it’s commonly referred to as crib death because it happens during sleep.
Your child’s safety should be one of the most important deciding factors when wanting to buy a cot. See our article on How to Choose a Travel Cot For Your Baby for guidelines on picking safe crib.
Although the following recommendations mostly apply to standard cribs, they are relevant to portable cots as well.
How can I reduce my child’s sleep-related dangers?
As most SIDS occurs during sleep time, it makes sense to ensure that your baby has a safe sleeping environment.
Unfortunately many cribs don’t meet current safety standards. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) of the USA recommend to follow the below guidelines to put your baby to sleep safely:
- Go bare less: Avoid pillows or toys such as teddy bears (any stuffed animal per say) to prevent suffocation.
- Use a firm sleeping surface. Avoid soft mattresses and mattress toppers. Indeed a soft mattress increases the likelihood of suffocation in the event that your baby ends up on the tummy
- Ensure that you can’t pass a can of soda between any of the slats of the crib.
- Make sure there that there is a huge gap between the sides of the crib and the mattress. A gap larger than two fingers is too big.
- Don’t use crib bumpers. They could lead to suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment. Also, bumpers may obstruct air circulates around your baby.
- Don’t use a crib with a strong odour which normally happens when paints used have high levels of lead.
- Ensure that the crib you buy includes proper assembly instructions and diagrams. It must also have cautionary and warning labels
- The crib needs to be assembled properly. If you are not sure how to assemble it even after following the user guide, call the manufacturer for help.
- Refrain from using old cribs – if possible (older than 10 years).
- Don’t place a crib near a windows with blinds as babies can strangle on curtain or blinds cords.
- Hanging crib toys should be position out of reach of the child.
A Checklist for Safe Sleeping your baby
- crib has not been recalled by CPSC (cpsc.gov)
- Pillows or any other thick comforter has been removed
- No loose parts
- Baby is on his/her back
- Firm mattress
- Crib has no loose connections
The Safe to Sleep campaign, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, offers information, support, and referrals. Call (800) 505-2742.
The CJ Foundation for SIDS is the largest nongovernmental funder of SIDS-related programs in the United States. Visit the foundation’s website for news about SIDS, a look at ongoing research, and updates on fundraisers and events around the country. Or call their 24-hour hotline at 1-888-8CJ-SIDS.