When my daughter was an infant, I was terrified to leave her alone to sleep. I'd heard the stories, seen the warnings, read all the statistics: young babies sometimes die. In their sleep. Inexplicably. And no known means of prevention. Sure, you could make sure that their cribs were free of air-flow-hindering miscellany (bumpers, pillows, stuffed toys), you could put them on their backs to sleep, you could encourage them to take pacifiers, but end of the day, nobody really knew why some babies succumbed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (even the name, which seemed expressly designed to terrorize new mothers, struck fear in my heart), and nobody knew how to prevent it.
They still don't.
I only know one woman personally who has lost a baby to SIDS. Loralee's description of the horror of her baby's sudden - sudden - and unexpected death is difficult reading (it breaks my heart into a zillion tiny pieces every time I read it), but it's important, because it's a stark reminder of how very, very important it is that we continue to press for a better understanding of SIDS, and that we continue to talk about it and stay aware of it and spread the word about anything, anything at all that might reduce risks, so that we can further reduce the number of babies - babies like Loralee's - who succumb to it every year. As Woman Tribune says, "people are working amazingly hard at reducing the number of babies who fall victim to SIDS every year; since 1992 when the Back To Sleep advisory was first introduced, the rate of SIDS has dropped more than 50% and has spared the lives of about 3,000 infants every year in the US."
But babies still die. Loralee's baby died. The babies of too many mothers - and fathers and sisters and brothers - have died. So we need to keep listening to their stories, and sharing their stories, and doing everything we can to support and promote awareness of SIDS.
It's SIDS Awareness Month. Talk to another mom about that. Talk to lots of moms about that. And then talk some more.
From Woman Tribune: steps parents can take to reduce their baby’s risk.
* Place your baby on their back to sleep at night and naptime.
* Use a firm mattress, covered with only a sheet, in a safety-approved crib.
* Remove all soft and loose bedding from your baby’s sleep area, including pillows, blankets, comforters, bumper pads, sheepskins, positioners, toys and all other soft objects.
* Consider using a Halo SleepSack, a wearable blanket, or other type of sleeper as a safe alternative to loose blankets.
* Do not place your baby to sleep on a sofa, waterbed, pillow, soft mattress or any other soft surface.
* Keep your baby’s face clear of coverings.
* Be careful not to overheat your baby with excessive clothing, bedding or room temperature.
* Do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke around your baby.
* Educate babysitters, day care providers, grandparents and anyone else who cares for your baby about reducing the risk of infant death.
Spread the word.
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