5 SIDS Myths That Just Won’t Go Away


Baby Sleeping in Cot
Source: womenshealthoneida.com

One of the greatest fears of a newborn’s parent is the agonizingly painful fear that when you put your baby down to sleep, she may not wake up. As a parent, that sentence is even difficult to pen. It is a very real tragedy that strikes 3,500 infants in the US each year. It is of course, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. 

For most healthy infants, the risk is very very low, and with sleep safe campaigns taking place over the last couple of decades, the number for SIDS related deaths has dropped dramatically. There are many simple things that parents can do to reduce the risk that all parents should now be aware of, such as sleeping your baby on her back, having adequate air flow in the room and through the cot, not leaving pillows or toys in the cot and not smoking, however there are still some persistent myths regarding the matter, and today we will debunk five of them.

Myth 1: Because we don’t fully understand what causes SIDS, we don’t know how to prevent it.

Although we cannot unequivocally prevent SIDS (as it’s still not totally understood), the risk can be dramatically reduced.

“Many babies who die in their sleep do so as a result of an unsafe sleep environment, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies be put down to sleep on their backs for their first year of life — both for naps and at night.” // www.huffingtonpost.com.au

During the 1990’s, the American Academy of Pediatrics launched their ‘back to sleep’ public health campaign, which saw a SIDS reduction of 50%, making it clear that there are certain factors that we as parents can control, that can make going to sleep a much safer event, and also alleviate our own fears and worry’s.

“The AAP also says that the safest sleep environment is a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards, that provides a firm sleep surface and that does not contain any loose bedding, stuffed animals or crib bumpers.” // www.huffingtonpost.com.au

Even though the guidelines are clear and ingrained into public knowledge, many parents till put their children at greater risk by not following them. Crib bumpers are still commonplace, when it is advised that they increase the risk due to air flow restriction in the crib. Also, bed sharing with parents is still prevalent.

Myth 2: Putting your baby down on his or her back increases choking risk.

“There’s an old wives’ tale that if you put your baby down on his back, he’ll throw up and choke on it,” said Dr. David Mendez, a neonatologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida. “I still see a lot of parents who believe that, and part of it is generational … it’s about how you were raised. Breaking those generational teachings is hard.” // www.huffingtonpost.com.au

The most common concern about having babies sleep on their backs is the fear that babies will spit up and choke whilst asleep. Studies (and history) have shown that healthy babies asleep on their backs instinctively turn their heads to protect their airways when they spit up.

Putting your baby down on his or her back increases choking risk
Source: www.hiffingtonpost.com.au

Myth 3: There’s a link between SIDS and vaccines.

Correlation does not constitute causation.

“There’s no data for it, and anyone who says there is a link is lying,” said Mendez. “There’s no science behind it at all.” // www.huffingtonpost.com.au

The main cause of this myth is due to the fact that vaccinations happen around the time when babies are most at risk of SIDS. So parents of this tragedy will generally make the connection that a recent vaccination is somehow connected to the death. In reality, that is like saying brushing your teeth can cause heart attacks, as most people who have heart attacks have brushed their teeth in the last day.

Myth 4: Smart monitors protect babies against SIDS.

The major problem with these monitors (they monitor the baby’s vital signs throughout the night) is that the alarms go often so frequently, for false alarms, that many parents eventually have to turn them off in order to get any sleep. There is also no evidence that they reduce the risk of SIDS at all.

However, the AAP does recommend that parents share the same room as baby for the first 12 months of life. That is, the same room only, and not the same bed. This is said to be able to reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%, with the thought process being that as you can see the baby and are more in tune with her sounds and movements, neither of you sleep quite as soundly and are more attune to anything awry.

Myth 5: It’s important to always flip your baby over onto his or her back.

SIDS risk peaks around two to three months, and drops significantly by the time babies turn 6 months old — which is also around the time that many babies can roll over from front-to-back and back-to-front.” // www.huffingtonpost.com.au

So even if you always place your baby on her back to sleep, that doesn’t mean that they will stay on their back. But that’s okay. Once they can roll themselves over, their brains are generally developed enough to alert themselves to potential breathing hazards, and can maneuver themselves into a safer sleeping position.



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