What Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
Before we dive into the causes of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS for short, let’s have an idea of what it actually is. SIDS is something that happens all of a sudden without explanation. The baby can seem healthy and look fine, but she suddenly dies.
Doctors make this diagnosis after thoroughly investigating the baby’s death for other causes. If nothing else is found, then SIDS is concluded.
Theoretically, babies under the age of twelve months are at risk. However, it is more common to happen to babies that are older than thirty days, but younger than six months old.
What Causes SIDS?
Unfortunately, nobody truly knows why SIDS happen. To make it worse, sometimes it can not be prevented. However, even though that is the case, there are many risk factors that can help lower the chances a baby dies from SIDS.
Risk Factors That You Should Avoid
Since the 1990’s, after these risk factors are avoided, the rate of SIDS have decreased tremendously. There are many risk factors involved. However, no matter how many risk factors were involved, it all lead to one major theory. Babies that died from SIDS mostly died because they were unable to breathe properly.
As I mentioned in a different article, human babies are physically weaker at birth relative to other animal species. One important job as parents is to make sure that our babies don’t suffocate. There are many different things that are risky and we should do our best to avoid them,
A Sturdy Sleeping Area
The baby’s sleep area should be firm and sturdy. Forget the idea that the bed should feel soft and comfortable. Leave that to when your baby is a teenager. Soft beds are risky because the baby can sink in and have her mouth and nose covered. Obviously this can suffocate the baby.
Take The Toys Away
Yes, I admit that it is very cute to have your baby sleep next to a pikachu, but it can possibly kill her too. Dolls, no matter how “safe” carry their own risks which can also suffocate the baby if it accidentally covers the baby’s face when she rolls around.
No Blankets Or Pillows
It does not matter if the pillow is hard or soft. Take it away. They can suffocate the baby. Not to mention it is not healthy to sleep with a pillow anyway. It causes the neck to be at an angle at rest and decrease blood circulation to the brain. Blankets are dangerous because they can cover the baby’s head and suffocate her.
Beware of String Like Items
Does your baby sleep near the window blinds or shades? Do you have any string, rope, or cable like object near the baby? These things can act like a noose and strangle the baby if she gets tangled in it.
Avoid Strong Smells
Do you know why there are so many scent free baby products being sold out there? That is because it is safer for the baby. Strong smells like pungent essential oils (peppermint for example), perfumes, and lotions can suffocate the baby’s weak lungs. If you decide to sleep next to your baby, the smell of your conditioner, and perfume counts too, so be careful.
Don’t Let Your Baby Sleep Alone
There are research that shows that when a baby sleeps alone in her own room, the risks of SIDS increases. The theory is that a baby needs to sleep near adults in order to imitate their breathing patterns. Babies are relatively inexperienced when it comes to breathing and reacting properly to the environment, so you can say this is a form of learning on the subconscious level.
My personal theory on this is that SIDS is most likely part of our genetics to help us. As I mentioned in the article as to why babies are helpless, animals of other species tend to discard their babies at a very young age. Lizards tend discard at her babies right at birth and never come back. Black bears discard their baby if they do not give birth to more than one baby bear at the same time. Pandas often give birth to twins, and they discard the weaker baby in favor of the stronger one.
I am sure our human ancestors were probably no different. Our ancestors most likely discarded the young without a second thought. Imagine that you are a baby discarded on the road in the ancient times. You would become food for predators at any point. It would make sense that the baby body is programmed to avoid suffering by delivering a peaceful death, hence the existence of SIDS. Of course, this is only my theory.
Avoid “Cooking” Your Baby
Have you ever gone outside for too long on a hot summer day. If you didn’t have anything to drink for a while, your mouth and throat will get really dry and sticky right? For you, that can be alright for a night, but that can be lethal for a sleeping baby.
With developing lungs and airways, overheating your baby will make it much more difficult in order for her to breathe. That is why you should dress your baby lightly and keep her sleeping spot away from the heater.
Avoid Air Pollution
As mentioned earlier, babies have weak lungs so if the air is not clean, it will definitely put them at risk. Secondary smoke is also a big concern. It is a big risk for SIDS and lung cancer.
Babies with darker skin tend to have higher chances of SIDS compared to lighter skin babies. It is unclear why that is the case.
Personally, my theory is that the reason is because darker skin humans have more primitive genetics. There’s research out there that proves that all humans were originally African American. In other words, all of our ancestors were dark skin humans.
Continuing on my theory, as mentioned earlier, just like other animal species, ancient humans probably have a tendency to discard babies if the baby seems to be unfit to survive. This is most likely done because humans had to be on the run from predators and dangers like every other animal species.
For babies that have been abandoned, it only makes sense that they evolved to self destruct before predators can cruelly chow them down. Since dark skin humans most likely retain most of our ancestor’s original genetic code, it also makes sense that the code for SIDS has been kept in the gene pool. This is just my theory of course.
Always Sleep Facing Up
Some parents like to calm their baby down by having her sleep on their belly. However that is a big mistake. It can cause the baby to have her mouth and nose covered while facing down, and suffocate due to lack of oxygen. This also applies to babies sleeping on their sides. The baby can readily roll into a dangerous face down position. This is why you should let your baby sleep face up no matter what. However, once your baby can roll over at will, then let her sleep however she wants. She has probably become tough enough at that point.
Breastfeeding Might Help
Breastfeeding provides nutrients, and food to the little baby. It also shares some of the mother’s immune system (IgG antibodies to be exact) with her baby. It is no wonder breastfed babies are usually tougher, and smarter. They are smarter, because the extra nutrients and immune protection allows their brains to develop to their full potential.
Personally, I feel that breastfeeding helps bonding with the baby. As I mentioned earlier, when a baby feels abandoned, she might self destruct. However, with the care bonding with a parent, it gives her the will to live.
Don’t Trust Baby Monitors
So far, there’s no proof that baby monitors actually work. Not to mention, wifi baby monitors are weak to hackers. Hackers can literally use a baby monitor to spy on your children. Besides, if you are using a baby monitor, then your baby is probably sleeping in a different room. This could really elevate the risks for SIDS.
In The End, There’s Still No Ways To Prevent It
I might have mentioned many risk factors you have to avoid in order to lower the chances of SIDS. Unfortunately, there’s still no sure-fire way of completing preventing SIDS. That method simply does not exist yet. If SIDS ever happen to anybody, it is probably not your fault. You have done your best already.
I hope that helped you understand more about SIDS. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section below.