Medical experts still don't know the exact causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
However, officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institures of Health say parents and caregivers can take the following steps to help reduce the risk.
- "Back to sleep": Always place babies on their backs to sleep.
- Your baby should sleep on a firm surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
- Share your room with the baby, but don't share your bed. Keep the baby in your room for at least the first six months, and ideally for the first year.
- Never let your baby sleep on an adult bed, couch or chair, whether it's alone, with you or with another person.
- Don't place any soft objects -- such as pillows, toys, crib bumpers or loose bedding -- in your baby's sleeping area.
- Breastfeed your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS. Babies who are breastfed or who are fed breast milk are at a lower risk of SIDS. However, if you feed the baby in your bed, make sure to return the baby to his or her separate, safe sleep space when you're finished.
- Consider giving your baby a pacifier for naps and overnight sleep; they reduce the risks of SIDS. However, don't attach the pacifier to anything such as a string, stuffed toy, etc., that could carry a risk of suffocation, choking or strangulation.
- Don't smoke while pregnant, and don't smoke or allow smoking around your baby. For help in quitting, go here.