Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the third leading cause of death for Mississippi infants one week to one year old, claimed 54 lives in 2008, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). The MSDH offers support services for families, professionals and communities, including educational outreach, counseling and referral services for families who have experienced a SIDS death.
Caregivers should follow these best practices to reduce the risk of SIDS:
- Infants should be placed for sleep in a supine (wholly on back) position every sleep period, be it a nap or for sleep at night.
- Use a firm sleep surface: A firm crib mattress, covered by a sheet, is the recommended sleeping surface.
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib: Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft objects should be kept out of an infant's sleeping environment.
- A separate but nearby sleeping environment is recommended, such as a separate crib in the parents’ bedroom. Sleeping with your infant on a couch or bed is dangerous.
- If possible, give your baby only breast milk for the first six months. Breastfeeding is shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. Do not force the baby to take the pacifier, and if it falls out during sleep do not insert it. Mothers who are breastfeeding should wait until their babies are at least one month old or accustomed to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.
- The pacifier may be used when placing the infant down for sleep, and not be reinserted once the infant falls asleep.
- Avoiding an infant's exposure to second-hand smoke is advisable for numerous reasons in addition to lowering the risk of SIDS.
- Do not allow your infant to overheat. The infant should be lightly clothed for sleep, and the bedroom temperature should be kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Consider using a sleep sack or other type sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm and safe.
- Do not smoke while pregnant and never allow smoking around your infant.
- Reduce the chance that flat spots develop on your infant’s head by providing “tummy time” when your infant is awake and someone is watching.
- Avoid having the infant spend excessive time in car-seat carriers and "bouncers."
Ensure that others caring for the infant (child care provider, relative, friend, babysitter) are aware of these recommendations.