Reducing the Risk of SUID in Your Nursery

baby girl sleeping on her back on white bedding

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Few things are more tragic than the loss of a precious, new life to sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). Sudden unexpected infant deaths include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment, and other deaths from unknown causes. 

Any sudden and unexpected death of a baby under one year old, in which the cause was not obvious, is considered SUID. These deaths often happen while babies are sleeping or in the area where they sleep.

Despite the success of the Safe to Sleep campaign, which has greatly reduced the death rate, SIDS remains the leading cause of sudden death in infants and the fourth leading cause of overall infant mortality in the United States. The fifth leading cause of children under one year old is unintentional injury, and the great majority of those injuries (83%) are suffocations—many of which happen during sleep.

While the cause of these incidents remains a mystery, research has identified a number of ways parents can help prevent SUID. But some parents fail to take the precautions recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Focused on creating a beautiful new room for their baby, they inadvertently make dangerous decorating choices that could put their little one in danger.

Avoid Bedding Blunders

Many new parents find it difficult to resist buying a new bedding set for their baby-to-be, often spending hundreds of dollars on sets that include sheets, blankets, throw pillows, and bumpers. After all, they want the baby to be comfortable, and if companies sell it, it must be safe to use, right?

According to the AAP, blankets, pillows, and especially crib bumpers are both unnecessary and dangerous. Sleep positioners and similar products that actively claim to reduce the risk of SIDS should also be avoided. No actual evidence exists to support these claims, and several infants have actually suffocated as a result of their use.

Visit the AAP for a complete list of risk factors and recommendations for reducing the risk of SUID.

The AAP, which has warned parents against the use of thick, pillow-like bumpers for some time, has now issued a safety warning against all types of crib bumpers, including those designed and marketed as “SIDS Safe.” Several states ban the sale of bumpers in order to eliminate any confusion about their safety. Yet confusion persists, and some parents continue to use crib bumpers despite safety warnings.

To ensure a safe sleeping environment for your little one, follow the ABC rule: Alone on your Back in an empty Crib.

  • A is for Alone: Baby should not share their sleeping environment with anyone, including parents, siblings, or pets; or anything, such as toys, blankets (other than a tight swaddle blanket used to swaddle a young infant who shows no signs of beginning to roll over), pillows, positioners, etc. Instead of covering your baby with a blanket as you would for an adult, dress them in a sleep sack for warmth, comfort, and safety.
  • B is for Back: Always put your baby to sleep on their back. This applies anytime your child is sleeping, day or night. Follow all safe sleeping guidelines for both naps and nighttime sleep.
  • C is for Crib: Babies should only sleep in a crib, bassinet, or play yard that meets current safety standards. Swings, bouncy seats, reclined sleepers (such as the Rock N Play), and anything that has straps or buckles should not be used for sleeping. The exception is a car seat, and then only when the child is in a moving car or airplane; when the car stops, take the baby out to and place them in a safe sleep environment.

Always choose a firm, well-fitting crib mattress. If you are using a play yard or bassinet, always use the mattress from the manufacturer made for that specific product.

Prevent Overheating

Before introducing your baby to the nursery, take some time to consider your nursery environment. Does the room get especially hot during the day? Is the crib ever exposed to direct sunlight? What measures have you taken to ensure the room stays cool and comfortable?

Window dressings are another area where parents sometimes fail to make a practical choice. Even if your nursery seems cool, it's a good idea to install heat-reflecting, UV-blocking drapes. Do you have your heart fixed on more delicate curtains? A set of heavy blinds should take care of the problem.

Let Baby Bunk In

While it may be tempting to put the baby right into their beautiful new nursery, the AAP recommends sharing a room with your newborn for at least the first six months and up to one year. This practice it can significantly reduce the risk of SUID.

That said, you should never share a bed with your little one. Adult mattresses and bedding are too soft and may lead to suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment. Instead, place your baby in their own crib, bassinet, or play yard near your bed.

Protect Baby's Air Quality

The AAP has long associated smoking with an increased risk of SIDS. Keep your home and car free of smoke. Never smoke around your baby, even if you are outdoors. Keep your baby away from anyone who smokes and any place where people smoke.

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Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About SIDS and SUID. Updated April 29, 2020.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortality in the United States, 2018. January 2020.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy explained. Updated February 10, 2020.

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Do not use infant sleep positioners due to the risk of suffocation. Updated April 18, 2019.

  5. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2938

  6. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Safe sleep, every sleep for infants.

  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Swaddling: Is it safe?. Updated August 17, 2020.