Although October is almost over and it marks the final days of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month, we think the message is important enough to keep talking about it. While SIDS is a topic that can evoke anxiety, it’s important for parents to equip themselves with knowledge of what it is and how it can be prevented.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly referred to as SIDS, is the unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby, usually under a year old. Often occurring during sleep, SIDS has earned the moniker “crib death” because many infants succumb to it while resting in their cribs. The exact cause of SIDS remains somewhat mysterious, but there are theories suggesting it could be due to abnormalities in the infant’s brain area responsible for controlling breathing and wakefulness.
While the exact cause is still unknown, researchers have identified certain factors that might increase a baby’s risk. But on a positive note, there are also preventive measures parents and caregivers can adopt to minimize the chances. Foremost among these measures is placing the baby on their back to sleep.
Bassinet and Mattress Safety: A Guide for Parents
Considering that infants spend approximately 70% of their time sleeping, the importance of choosing the right sleep environment cannot be overstated. A baby’s sleep space should be safe, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers some guidelines to ensure this:
– Sleep Position and Space: Always lay your infant on their back to sleep, and make sure they have their own sleep area without anyone else. Shared sleeping increases the risk of SIDS.
– Appropriate Sleep Furniture: Opt for a crib, bassinet, or portable play yard that comes with a firm, flat mattress and a fitted sheet. It’s crucial to avoid placing a sleeping baby on a sofa, armchair, or any seating device like swings or car safety seats, unless they’re actually in the car. For newborns, one of the oldest and most respected brands is the Arm’s Reach® Co-Sleeper® brand bassinet. Arm’s Reach offers several different models that can be used for small spaces, travel, and for multi-uses.
– Sleep Space Essentials: Ensure that the sleep space is free from loose blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, bumpers, and other soft items that can pose a suffocation risk.
– Feeding and Lifestyle: Whenever possible, breastfeeding is recommended. Also, avoid smoking around your child, as it is a known risk factor for SIDS.
A Closer Look at Mattresses:
It’s important to remember that not all mattresses are made equal. The needs of infants and toddlers differ:
– Infants: They need a firmer mattress that aids in spine development and alignment.
– Toddlers: As they grow, a slightly softer mattress provides the comfort they desire.
For parents who want a long-term solution, dual firmness mattresses, designed for both infant support and toddler comfort, are an excellent choice. A brand that offers an eco-friendly version is the Colgate Mattress EcoClassica III which is wrapped in an organic cotton cover with food grade waterproof backing, featuring a durable topside waterproofing that ensures quick and easy cleanups for those middle-of-the-night diaper accidents.
Safety Standards: Key Mattress Certifications
When purchasing a mattress for your child, it’s essential to check for recognized safety certifications. These provide assurance that the mattress adheres to established safety norms and is free from harmful chemicals. Here are some key certifications:
– CertiPUR-US®: This certifies that the foam used in the mattress is devoid of harmful chemicals.
– Greenguard Gold: A certification ensuring the mattress emits low chemical levels, promoting healthier air around your child.
– JPMA Certification: An industry-recognized certification confirming the mattress meets established safety standards.
– CPSIA Compliant: Ensures that the mattress adheres to the guidelines set by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
While the uncertainties around SIDS can be daunting, informed decisions about sleep environments can play a vital role in protection. Be sure to ask your pediatrician if you have any questions about putting your child to sleep safely.