Rethinking SIDS: Many Deaths No Longer a Mystery

Written by Andrea Hsu, Submitted by Patty Puline, Safe Kids Erie Coordinator

The thought of a baby dying suddenly and unexpectedly is one that keeps parents awake at night, fearing the worst. For years, little was known about sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Babies would die in their sleep, and it was presumed that little could be done to prevent these deaths.

Today in the U.S., more than 2,000 babies die of SIDS every year, according to government figures.

But the mystery surrounding SIDS is not what it once was. Many SIDS deaths are now believed to be accidents caused by unsafe sleep practices. And some are questioning whether the term SIDS remains relevant at all.

American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines

Safe Sleep Practices

  1. Always place babies to sleep on their backs during naps and at nighttime. Because babies sleeping on their sides are more likely to accidentally roll onto their stomachs, the side position is not as safe as the back and is not recommended.
  2. Don’t cover the heads of babies with a blanket or overbundle them in clothing and blankets.
  3. Avoid letting the baby get too hot. The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash and rapid breathing. Dress the baby lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.

Safe Sleep Environment

  1. Place your baby in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress and a well-fitting sheet (cradles and bassinets may be used, but choose those that are JPMA [Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association] certified for safety).
  2. Place the crib in an area that is always smoke-free.
  3. Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds and cushions.
  4. Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby. These items can impair the infant’s ability to breathe if they cover his face.
  5. Breast-feed your baby. Experts recommend that mothers feed their children human milk at least through the first year of like.
  6. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in the room where you sleep. Place the baby’s crib or bassinet near your bed (within an arm’s reach). This makes it easier to breast-feed and to bond with your body.

To read the entire article, please visit

For more information on Safe Kids Erie, please contact Patty Puline, Safe Kids Erie Coordinator, at