Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is
the unexplained death of an infant under age one. As a parent, I know that there is nothing
scarier than the idea that your baby might suddenly stop breathing while she’s sleeping.
To help protect your baby from SIDS, always put her to sleep on her back. When she’s awake,
spending time on her side and tummy is good for muscle development, and to prevent the
back of the head from flattening. Keep soft items, such as pillows, blankets, and stuffed
animals, out of her crib. Use a firm mattress and tightly fitted sheets. Skip all bumper
pads, too. They can restrict your baby’s breathing if her face presses against them. Make sure
that your crib slats or spaced no more than 2 and 3 / 8 inches apart. Offer a pacifier
at night. Research has shown that it can help prevent SIDS. Avoid cigarette smoke. Studies
show that exposure to second- hand smoke can increase a baby’s risk of SIDS, so can smoking
during pregnancy. Lastly, don’t sleep with your baby anywhere, even the couch. She could
be suffocated by a pillow or a loose blanket, or you could roll over on her. If you want
to be close to your baby at night, consider a co- sleeper that attaches to your bed.