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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Despite what you see in store displays, all you really need are the basics: a safe crib or co-sleeper, a firm mattress, and a tightly fitted sheet. As a general rule, avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety. Keep it completely bare.
Experts say many new parents think SIDS can’t happen to them. Or, they believe that since you can’t do anything to prevent it, why worry about it? While parents shouldn’t drive themselves nuts with worry, there are some ways to reduce the risk:
The first line of defense: Put your baby to sleep only on his back—every time he sleeps, including every nap. Provide “tummy time” every day when your baby is awake and someone is watching—it’s a good way to help her strengthen her muscles. It’ll also help to prevent excessive flattening of the head (plagioscephaly).
There are no causes of SIDS, by definition. If a diagnostic cause is found, then it’s not SIDS, but an explained SUID. What we do know, though, is that there are risk factors linked to the condition:
You’d think spotting SIDS would be fairly straightforward, but it’s not. It’s very hard to know exactly how and why babies succumb, or why the highest rates occur in infants between 2 and 4 months old. The condition can be diagnosed only when a death has been carefully investigated—including an autopsy, a study of the scene and circumstances of death, and an examination of the baby's medical history—so that all other possibilities can be ruled out. And even then, it can be a challenge.
There are no symptoms for SIDS. That’s one of the things that scares new parents most—there’s no warning.