What Causes SIDS?

“SIDS” (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) strikes fear into every parent’s heart, and that’s understandable. A normal, healthy baby can go to sleep and never wake up – for seemingly no reason. The medical community isn’t sure exactly what causes SIDS. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless.

Here are three major risk factors for SIDS, along with ways to reduce them.

  1. Prematurity or low birth weight

Statistically, more premature babies die from SIDS compared to infants born after 37 weeks. The best way to make sure your pregnancy is progressing as it should is to visit a healthcare provider regularly. This allows them to identify and address any issues, so your baby stays in the oven as long as possible.

  1. Smoking

The data isn’t good: Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to die of SIDS, and babies who are regularly around secondhand smoke are two times more likely.* If you are expecting a child, make every effort to quit smoking and keep your baby away from smoky areas. Find out more about how secondhand smoke harms infants. [link to http://www.bootheelbabies.org/secondhand-smoke-really-hurt-baby/]

  1. Unsafe sleep practices

Because SIDS typically occurs during sleep, it’s crucial to have a safe environment for your baby during naps and at night. The ABC’S of Safe Sleep is an easy guide to remember.

Babies sleep best

Alone, on their

Back, in a

Crib, or other

Safe Sleep Surface

This SIDS Awareness Month, resolve to make a difference for babies in your area. Learn how you can help save lives. [link to http://www.bootheelbabies.org/what-you-can-do/]

*Children’s Hospital, St. Louis, Mo.


5 little-known habits that endanger your baby

Accidental death related to unsafe sleep habits is the No. 1 cause of infant mortality in Missouri’s Bootheel. But it’s not just remembering to place your baby on his or her back to sleep or ensuring that your baby’s crib or sleep space meets current safety guidelines (both of which are very important). We know more about the causes of infant death today than we ever have, which makes it critical to educate caregivers on other key factors that put your baby at risk.

Did you know?  

– That blankets or other loose bedding in your baby’s crib are a suffocation hazard?

– That pillows, stuffed toys or crib bumper pads in your baby’s crib are suffocation and choking hazards?

– That babies should never co-sleep with adults, other babies or children?

– That sleeping in a car seat puts your baby at risk for choking and suffocation?

– That babies should only sleep in a crib or other safe sleep surface with a tightly fitted sheet?

Make sure that everyone who cares for your child is aware of these dangers. We’ve made it easy. Just screen shot the list below and text to friends, family and caregivers to help educate them.

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How you can help save lives

This September (like every September) is Infant Mortality Awareness Month – a time for us to shine a spotlight on the issue we’re passionate about every day. Infant mortality is a devastating problem in the Bootheel, with more than 140 babies from six Missouri counties (Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Scott and Stoddard) lost in the last nine years.

Almost everyone in the Bootheel has encountered infant mortality in some form – whether as a family member, neighbor or just seeing a report on the local news. Even if you’re not directly connected, the community around you declines when babies are lost.

Resolve to make a difference for your community this month by helping save infants’ lives. Here are a few practical ways you can do that.

Get the facts about infant mortality

The first step is educating yourself on this issue and how losing babies affects your community. Our website BootheelBabies.org has a lot of great information focused specifically on the Bootheel, so you’ll know how to start a conversation about infant mortality in your area.

We recommend starting at BootheelBabies.org/the-problem/ to see firsthand why this issue is important.

Share info

Bootheel Babies & Families is all over the internet – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. We frequently share information related to our mission, along with tips for safe sleep, prenatal care, child safety and more. By following us on any or all of these pages and sharing our posts, you’ll help spread our message and provide others with valuable info for their babies.

September is a good time to start sharing, as we’ll be posting info focused on infant mortality all month long.

Learn your ABC’S

No, we don’t mean the kind you learned in elementary school. We’re talking about the ABC’S of Safe Sleep: Babies sleep best

  • Alone, on their
  • Back, in a
  • Crib, or other
  • Safe Sleep Surface

This method of putting babies to bed is proven to significantly reduce their risk of suffocation and SIDS, making it crucial for everyone to know. And it only takes a few minutes to commit to memory.

Thank you for supporting our cause. Like us on Facebook to stay up to date with current information on infant mortality.


4 things that should never be in your baby’s crib

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A safe crib includes a firm mattress and tightly fitted sheet. That’s it.

As you design your baby’s sleep surface, give some attention to what shouldn’t be included: blankets, pillows, toys, bumper pads and other babies. Here’s why:

1) Blankets and pillows

Because an infant doesn’t have the strength to move if his or her mouth and nose become covered, loose blankets and pillows increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS.

2) Toys

Like blankets and pillows, stuffed animals and other toys can cause suffocation or SIDS if they come near a baby’s face.

3) Bumper pads

Many parents use bumper pads to keep their baby from hitting his or her head on crib slats. But the risk associated with suffocation and SIDS from crib bumpers makes them too dangerous. As long as the spaces between slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches, your baby should be fine.

4) Other children

A baby should sleep alone – ALWAYS. Because children move around in their sleep, babies are at risk of being crushed or pushed off the bed. The chance of suffocation or SIDS is also higher when babies share an adult bed with caregivers.

Instead of adding blankets, crib bumpers and toys to your baby’s crib, focus on choosing a firm mattress, tightly fitted sheet and perfect sleep sack. And keep an eye out for these three signs a crib isn’t safe.

To learn more about creating a safe sleep surface for your infant, click here.

Disclaimer: If your baby has a fever or other symptoms, or you have concerns about the growth and development of your child, always seek care with your healthcare provider.


Why you should keep your baby’s crib blanket free

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Have you ever woken up to realize you’re so tangled in the comforter you can’t move? It takes a few seconds of kicking and turning before you free yourself.

Now imagine you can’t kick or roll over, and the blanket is blocking your nose and mouth. You’re trapped.

This is a very real possibility for an infant who is covered by a blanket during sleep – with the wrong move, he or she cannot breathe. That’s why it’s best to keep blankets out of your baby’s crib.

Blanket-free sleeping may seem impractical during Southeast Missouri winters. After all, you must ensure your baby stays warm. Here are some blanket alternatives to keep your little one toasty and comfortable without increasing his or her risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):
Sleep sack – This wearable blanket is designed so your infant will not become tangled. When choosing a sleep sack, make sure your baby has plenty of leg room to kick and stretch.
Swaddling – For infants less than two months old, this way of snugly wrapping babies can calm them and promote sleep. Learn more about safe swaddling.
Sleeper – This soft, warm garment – basically a onesie with legs and sleeves – keeps your baby cozy without a blanket.

Other uses for baby blankets

Even though keeping blankets in a crib is not safe, do not get rid of receiving blankets and baby quilts just yet. They are perfectly fine to use for play mats during tummy time or to put on the floor while your baby moves around. Just keep a careful eye on your infant, and move him or her to a safe sleep surface if he or she gets tired.

For other tips on how to ensure your baby sleeps safely, click here.

Disclaimer: If your baby has a fever or other symptoms, or you have concerns about the growth and development of your child, always seek care with your healthcare provider.


5 tried-and-true ways to help your newborn sleep at night

Infants sleep a lot – usually between 16 and 17 hours a day. They also wake frequently, sleeping only around two to four hours at a time. It’s important to find ways to help your baby sleep so that you can get some rest too. Here are a few techniques decades of parents have found successful.

  1. Swaddle your newborn.

Babies are born with a startle reflex that causes them to occasionally jerk awake. Wrapping infants securely in a swaddling blanket or sleep sack can keep them snug and prevent the startle reflex. Learn how to safely swaddle your baby.

  1. Keep daytime naps short.

If your baby spends extra time snoozing during the day, he or she will sleep less at night. Try limiting daytime sleep to around two hours per nap. Wake your infant after the limit, feed him or her and play for a while before the next nap.

  1. Follow a bedtime routine.

A familiar routine about the same time every night will help your baby recognize when it’s time to go to sleep. Help your baby relax with a warm bath, then sing a lullaby or read a story.

  1. Turn on white noise.

Thumps, talking and other sounds can keep a newborn awake. Help drown out noises by turning on white noise in your baby’s room. A crib aquarium, white noise machine or fan placed near – but not inside – your child’s crib should help him or her fall and stay asleep.

  1. Let your baby self-soothe.

Lay your infant on his or her back in a crib while he or she is still slightly awake. This will allow your baby to learn how to fall asleep without you holding him or her. When your baby wakes during the night, wait a few minutes before picking him or her up to see if your infant will fall back asleep on his or her own.

Another way to help your newborn sleep soundly and safely is by following the ABC’S of Safe Sleep. Learn them here: http://www.bootheelbabies.org/safe-sleep.

Always speak with a medical provider if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s health and well-being.