As a mum, the health and safety of your child will always remain your top concern and priority. However, despite your best intentions, you may unknowingly make mistakes that can cost your baby his life.
Such an unfortunate incident came to light when a mother fell asleep on the sofa, cuddling her eight-day-old son, hardly knowing that he will die of suffocation (1).
Research suggests that ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ or SIDS, is the most common cause of infant death (2).
You may think of co-sleeping as the safest and most natural way to make your baby sleep, but it can actually increase the possibility of SIDS by almost 50 percent. Hence, when the babies are very young, it is extremely necessary to maintain caution and keep them safe.
Why Co-Sleeping While Holding Your Baby Could Be Risky?
While many people and cultures encourage co-sleeping as a natural way to soothe a child, it comes with its own risks, especially when the parent is seated on a sofa or a couch.
These risks are as follows:
- Babies may fall down while parents doze off on the couch and their grip loosens.
- When co-sleeping on bed, the babies may get over-heated due to duvet, or get suffocated by parents sleeping next to them.
- If there are loose ends of bedding or big pillows by their side, it can again lead to suffocation.
- When babies are put to sleep while being in arms or rocked gently, they are mostly face down, which is a dangerous posture considering the possibility of suffocation
How Can You Minimize The Risk Of SIDS?
There are a few guidelines that the AAP (American Association of Paediatrics) recommends when it comes to safe sleeping practices for your infant (3):
- Put the baby to sleep only on a cot or bassinet that has a firm surface and a tightly fitting sheet without loose ends.
- The baby must sleep on its back.
- It is recommended that parents share the same room with the baby, but not the same sleeping place, at least not for a year. This makes the sleeping arrangement more intimate yet safe.
- Do away with soft pillows, duvets, soft toys or any such material that may cause breathing distress to the baby.
- Check for any source that may cause suffocation due to smoke, carbon monoxide, or any harmful drugs.
- Don’t rely on baby monitors for warning calls as they have been found to be ineffective.
There are many things that you need to take care of to ensure that you don’t harm your baby accidentally. If you are going to breastfeed your baby and are feeling too tired, ask for someone to sit with you or keep an eye on the baby. Also, don’t indulge in drinking as it can diminish your mental strength and faculties to look after your baby. In case your baby is premature, you need to be even more vigilant.
SIDS Affecting Premature Babies
One news article reported that the chances of premature babies dying due to SIDS are almost three times when compared to the risk posed to the full-term babies (4). This could be due to their smaller size and also their respiratory system, which might be underdeveloped when compared to full-term babies.
Cases of infant deaths due to SIDS are really unfortunate and can cause irreparable trauma to the parents. It is said that prevention is better than cure. Sadly, SIDS has no cure. So, all you can do as a parent is be very careful while handling your baby and adopt safe sleeping practices.
You also read: Weaning a Breast Milk-Obsessed Baby: Here’s The Plan