NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Tragically 3,500 babies in the US die unexpectedly while sleeping, often due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or accidental deaths from suffocation or strangulation.

Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters is educating the public on how to keep children safe from SIDS.

What can a parent due to keep their infant safe?

  • Infant Sleep Position: Until their first birthday babies are always more safe when they sleep on their back. Some parents are concerned about infants choking when on their backs but actually that is not true – a baby’s anatomy and their gag reflex will keep that from happening.
  • Infant Sleep Surface: Your baby should be placed on a firm sleep surface covered by a fitted sheet with no other soft bedding or soft objects in the crib space. You want to make sure there are no pillows or cushions as a substitute for a firm mattress. Ensure the crib, bassinet or play yard conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • Infant Sleep Location: We recommend that infants sleep in their parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface for at least the first 6 months of life. The AAP recommends room-sharing, not bed sharing, as this arrangement decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. This proximity helps facilitate feeding, comforting and monitoring of the infant. Breastfeeding is definitely associated with a reduced risk of SIDS

What about the role of prenatal care?

  • Ensuring a mom gets regular prenatal care is very important. We know that babies born early and those with low birth weight are at particularly increased risks of SIDS.
  • We also know that alcohol, drug use, and smoking during pregnancy have been identified as major risk factors for SIDS
  • Bringing your infant in for their routine immunizations is also protective.

Are there any additional products parents can buy that can keep infants safe?

  • Use caution when a product claims to reduce the risk of SIDS. Wedges, positioners, special mattresses and specialized sleep surfaces have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS, according to the AAP
  • Sleep sacs can be very protective
  • Swaddling can be a very effective method to calm a fussy infant but there is no evidence to recommend swaddling as a strategy to reduce SIDS

To learn more about CHKD’s Sleep Medicine Program click HERE, or call (757) 668-9466