Facts on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant less than one year old. It usually occurs during sleep, with the highest risk between the hours of midnight and 9am. Usually, there are no signs of distress and no noise.


The cause of SIDS is unknown, but the presence of several factors is thought to increase SIDS risk. These include smoking and drug use while pregnant and having a premature baby. Several environmental factors are thought to be involved, too. For example, the location of the baby’s crib, crib furnishings, and the baby’s position and clothing are likely contributors.


SIDS can happen to any family, and ongoing research is being done to try to find the cause of the problem. The research that has been done so far has identified a number of things parents can do to help reduce their child’s SIDS risk.


To prevent SIDS, your baby should always sleep alone, never in a bed with parents or siblings. Place his or her crib in your room, at least until he or she learns to roll comfortably in both directions (around 6 months of age). The crib should include a firm mattress (remove mattress bumpers) and nothing else—no pillows, toys, blankets or other bedding, as these could easily fall onto the baby’s face and restrict breathing. Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, never on the tummy. Keep your baby’s sleeping clothing to a minimum, do not dress him or her in anything that could potentially get caught over his or her face.


While the thought of SIDS happening to any family is distressing, with these tips, you can give your child the best chance of prevention. More research is being done, and hopefully one day we will have a cause and a cure. In the meantime, if you can only remember one piece of advice, hold onto this: place your baby on his back to sleep and in a bare crib. It may just save your child’s life.