A parent’s natural inclination to keep their baby warm on cold winter nights can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to a warning released by the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday.
Parents frequently dress their babies in layered clothing, add extra blankets, or turn up the thermostat in an effort to keep their little ones warm during the fall and winter. However, such precautions can lead to an infant becoming overheated. Studies show a baby who is too warm is at an increased risk of SIDS.
"Parents and caregivers should dress infants in light clothing for sleep and keep rooms at a temperature comfortable for adults," says Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., director of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), in a November 2, 2010 press statement.
The NICHD recommends parents do not use a blanket when putting their baby down to sleep. At times when a blanket is needed, the baby should be placed with its feet at the foot of the crib and covered only to chest level with a blanket that has been securely tucked under the mattress. The blanket should be removed and the baby cooled if the infant becomes hot to the touch.
In addition to preventing overheating, parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of SIDS by taking the following steps:
- Always place babies on their backs to sleep
- Use the back sleep position every time the baby sleeps, whether it is a nap or at night
- Place the baby on a firm surface, preferably a safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet
- Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of the baby’s crib or sleep area
- Do not allow smoking around the baby
- If the baby will take it, consider using a pacifier when placing the baby down to sleep
For more information on SIDS, contact First Candle (formerly the National SIDS Alliance) at 1-800-221-7437 or the SIDS Center of Indiana at:
SIDS Center of Indiana
1810 Broad Ripple Ave, Suite 13
Indianapolis, IN 46220