There are several risk factors and theories for sudden infant death syndrome which can help to explain the incidence of the syndrome and help parents reduce the risk of SIDS for their children. The “Back to Sleep” public awareness campaign in the United States was intended to teach parents to put their babies to sleep only on their backs, but there are unique considerations to take into account with this strategy.
Afte the campaign SIDS dropped over 50%
The idea that stomach sleeping may have been a major risk factor for SIDS seemed to be true after the “Back to Sleep” campaign resulted in over a 50% decrease in SIDS for infants in the United States, even though SIDS remains the leading cause of death for young infants. So there is evidence that back sleeping is definitely safer, but parents have had some concerns with back sleeping.
Positional plagiocephaly may be a concern
Parents should be concerned about positional plagiocephaly, or the development of a flat spot on the back of your baby’s head as the result of extensive back sleeping. This can be avoided however but it is treatable by changing your baby’s position often while he or she is sleeping and giving your baby “tummy time” while awake. If positional plagiocephaly is a concern for you, discuss how to reduce it with your baby’s doctor.
Side sleeping is not recommended
Side sleeping is also not recommended along with stomach sleeping because babies can roll over on their stomachs when in a side sleeping position. Even though your baby may strongly prefer stomach or side sleeping the safest thing to do is to place them on their backs until they are able to roll over on their own consistently.
At the age of four to seven months you can let your baby pick a sleeping position
Around the age of four to seven months your baby may be able to roll over without any issues. Once that happens you can let him pick his own sleeping position with the approval of your pediatrician, but make sure that your baby is comfortable and easily able to roll over before you do this.
Until they reach the age where they are able to roll over you should always use a back sleeping position. There are several other preventative measures that parents should take to reduce the chance of SIDS including the use of pacifiers and breastfeeding, and it is unclear how either of these measures work although they have shown to be effective.
Room temperature, bedding and clothing are also important considerations, and new parents should have an extensive education on the types of bedding and other materials that may be risk factors for SIDS, along with following every strategy necessary to reduce the chance of SIDS as much as feasible.