01 Oct SIDS Awareness Month
October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/SIDS Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/CDC, 3500 infants die each year unexpectedly in the United States. This includes deaths from SIDS as well as unknown causes and accidental suffocation and strangulation. Since the 1994 SIDS awareness and Back-to-Sleep campaign began, the rates of death have declined by more than 50%. However, these rates have plateaued and SIDS remains the leading cause of infant mortality. These are grim statistics but much can be done to prevent it while also fostering proper developmental skills.
Although doctors and researchers have yet to determine the cause, the CDC recommends these standard practices to reduce the risk of SIDS.
· Always place the baby on his/her back to sleep.
· Use a firm surface with a fitted sheet.
· Share a room but not a bed with the baby.
· Keep soft objects out of the baby’s sleep area.
· If needed, use a pacifier that is detached.
· Don’t smoke during the pregnancy or around the baby.
Although babies spend most hours sleeping, it is important to not place them on their backs all day. In my experience as a pediatric occupational therapist, mothers often report avoiding placing their babies on their tummies due to the fear of SIDS. Some report delaying what is known as tummy time during waking hours all together not realizing the benefits. As soon as babies are brought home for the first time, mini sessions of tummy time can begin. It is needed to develop the muscles of the head, neck, and upper body. It also helps to build the coordination needed for skills like rolling, crawling, reaching, and playing. Here are some tips to encourage tummy time during waking hours.
· Start at three to five minutes at a time a few times a day.
· Gradually increase the time as the baby builds tolerance.
· Transition into it from supported sitting.
· Use music and/or toys to soothe or keep the baby entertained.
· Have a trusted person in front of the baby to encourage engagement.
· Always supervise the baby and practice on the floor.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If your baby has difficulty sleeping or maintaining tummy time, speak with your pediatrician about consulting with an occupational therapist. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist, Creator of the award-winning PALS Handwriting Program, and Founder of Playapy. For more information about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com or email [email protected].