For many years, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, or crib death, in which an apparently healthy baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly) has been a complete mystery. But researchers have identified some risk factors that affect the likelihood of SIDS.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends the following safety precautions:
Put your baby to sleep on her back. Research shows that this sleep position for babies dramatically reduces the incidence of SIDS. (Some babies have a medical problem that means they must sleep on their tummy — your doctor will advise you.) Once your baby can roll over easily, you can let her choose her own sleep position.
Give your baby a smoke-free environment. Research clearly shows that babies who are regularly exposed to cigarette smoke have a higher SIDS rate.
Breastfeed your baby. It has many health benefits and probably gives some protection against SIDS.
Put your baby on firm mattress. Avoid pillows, puffy bedding, stuffed toys and bumper pads in the baby’s crib as these could prevent proper air circulation around your baby’s face.
Avoid overheating your baby. Babies need to be warm, but should not be hot. A room temperature that would be comfortable for you should be fine for your baby.