While no one knows for sure what causes SIDS, you can take the following steps to reduce the risks:
- Get adequate prenatal care. Take good care of yourself and avoid taking unnecessary drugs during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
- Do not smoke near your baby. Smoking during or after birth can double the risk of SIDS.
- Breastfeed your baby. Studies in the United States and New Zealand have shown that bottle-fed babies have been shown to be at greater risk for SIDS.
- Put your baby to sleep only on her back, not her stomach or her side. Do put her on her tummy for playtime, however.
- Remove any loose bedding from where the baby sleeps. Do not use a pillow or a thick comforter. Do not allow the baby to become overheated.
- Use nontoxic mattresses and bedding for the baby (see Chapter 12 and the Resource list for more information).
- Sleep with your baby. According to sleep expert Dr. James McKenna, infants who sleep with their parents may be at lower risk for SIDS.