|Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) defines the baffling deaths of otherwise healthy infants. Years of study by researchers have yielded no causes and the syndrome remains a frustrating mystery that claims the lives of more than 7,000 babies every year, and transcends ethnic, racial, and gender groups.|
There are so many theories about what causes SIDS, including infection or stress related factors; birth defects; or failure to develop properly. Other theories suggest the period between birth and 3 months is a critical time of rapid growth, during which a child is extremely vulnerable. Scientists are also studying development of infant nervous systems, heart, breathing, sleep patterns, chemical balances, and environmental factors. There is a large group that firmly believes pesticides and chemicals in crib bedding are to blame.
Certain risk factors (which are not causes) may play a role in some cases; but the debate rages on about how to reduce the risk of SIDS. Some insist chemicals in textiles are off gassing into babies' lungs and irritating skin. Some say other factors are at play.
With your own newborn child, ALWAYS err on the side of safety. Provide organic crib bedding that is free of chemicals, pesticide residues, unnatural toxins, and artificial breeding environments for allergens and minute pests. Be sure also to select a firm organic crib mattress that is comfortable enough for conversion to youth bed or futon. Standard 510 coil organic crib mattresses are the safest, and most popular choice for the eco-safe, natural nursery.
The following common sense strategies are generally accepted as wise SIDS prevention as well:
|Cribs and Mattresses|
- Infants should always be placed on their backs (a fully supine position) to nap or sleep for the night. When awake infants should be placed on tummy, and occasionally on back, to maximize healthy development of motor skills until able to roll to a more comfortable position by themselves.
- Provide your baby a firm sleep surface. Standard 510 coil and above is fine. But be cautious when pricing organic mattresses ... you will see significantly less expensive mattresses, but they will be NO MORE THAN 180 coil !!
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding between infant and mattress out of the way. Soft blankets, pillows, comforters, sheepskins, quilts, etc., should never be placed between the baby and mattress surface. For moisture and general organic mattress protection, use protective organic wool flat underlay pads instead. For older babies and toddlers, use 1 year warranted tufted organic mattress toppers, organic quilts, comforters, and standard organic pillows.
- Do not smoke during pregnancy. For that matter, never smoke near children at all.
- For the first three months of life, provide a separate sleeping area for your baby that is in very close proximity to Mommy. Studies suggest SIDS appears to be reduced when an infant sleeps in the same room as the mother. Co-sleepers with organic mattress pads are perfect.
- Offer your baby a pacifier when placing down for nap or bedtime. Do not reinsert once the baby is asleep. If your baby refuses the pacifier, don't force it. It's okay ... Baby is telling you the pacifier is not good right now, thanks.
- Avoid Overheating. The infant should be lightly clothed for sleep, and the bedroom temperature should be kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Over-bundling should be avoided, and the infant should not feel hot to the touch.
- Do not waste money on products claiming to prevent SIDS. There is no such device or commercial product that can do that, especially considering Science has yet to determine the cause.
Taking care of your new baby may seem daunting sometimes, but it's almost always just a matter of using common sense. As a new parent, it's best for your child that your opinions remain on the side of safety. Yes, organic crib bedding and organic cotton clothing aren't proven to prevent SIDS, but they MAY prevent SIDS. Why take any chances?
Susan Fullen-Yurek is owner of EcoSleepShop Organics, an online catalog of organic bedding and organic cotton linens for the eco bedroom, bath and nursery.
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