Cot death or crib death, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is the term used to describe a baby aged between one month to one year old who dies suddenly and unexpectedly. It is known as cot death even though it can occur outside the cot because it happens most often during sleeping time. It is the worst nightmare for any parent. In Australia, more than 3,500 families a year have lost their babies to this syndrome. There are several researches to find its causes; however, there is no definitive answer to explain it yet.
What causes cot death?
Researchers have studied cot death for many decades and still have no exact solution. Most of them believe that it occurs during a critical period of development when a baby has an underlying vulnerability such as abnormal functioning of the heart, breathing and is exposed to certain stresses such as sleeping on their front. This syndrome is more often found in babies who are:-
• Sleeping on their front
• Sleeping on a surface which is too soft
• Sleeping in too warm environments
• Kids of young-aged mother
• Kids of drinkers and smokers
How to prevent cot death?
Even though the exact causes are not found, the percentage of the death from SIDS seems to decrease from these following reasons.
- Back to sleep
Every time you put your baby to sleep both in the daytime and night time, you have to make sure that you place your baby on his or her back and in the appropriate position. Do not use a pillow just use a firm foam mattress that is not too soft, covered with a sheet. You should use only thin blankets and cover from feet to shoulders, so it will not cover a baby’s face while they are sleeping.
Babies may get a flattening of the back head but this will become rounder again as they grow up. Your baby should sometimes get time to play on their tummy during the day since this will help the baby in order to develop their neck muscles.
- Smoke-free area
Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of cot death. It is safer if you and your partner do not smoke during pregnancy. You should create a smoke-free area around your baby. Moreover, it is best if nobody smokes in your house including visitors.
- Avoiding sleep with your baby on the same bed
You and your baby should not sleep in the same bed as sharing a bed with your baby is especially dangerous. There is a possibility that you may roll over your baby while you are asleep. Babies are better off sleeping in their cot which has been laid beside your bed in the same room.
- Don’t set the room too hot
Overheating can also increase the risk of cot death. You should check your baby regularly to see if she is too hot or too cold, therefore you can remove or add a layer of blankets for the baby.
From the research it seems that breast-fed babies have a lower percentage of risk from cot death compared to formula-fed babies. Breast-feeding will reduce the chance of infection which can be the cause of this syndrome.
The percentage of the death from SIDS is decreasing every year; however, you should still be aware of the factors which can cause it and how to help prevention in order to keep your safe baby from it.