Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Causes and 13 Tips for Prevention

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Causes and 13 Tips for Prevention

We are all afraid of the same thing: walking into our baby’s room to find her cold and lifeless.

It’s the story of our nightmares, and many of us know someone who has lived it.

So what causes this nightmare to become a reality for some mothers, and how can you prevent it in your own life?

 

While the exact cause is unclear, researchers have discovered several factors that increase a baby’s risk for SIDS, as well as ways to reduce the chances.

*This post contains affiliate links. Feel free to read my super anticlimactic disclosure here.

 

Risk Factors and Causes of SIDS

 

Brain Defects

This one is probably the most nerve wracking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the portion of the brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep is underdeveloped or immature in some infants.

This means that if they fall into a deep sleep, they may stop breathing and never wake up.

The problem is that there is no way to screen for this, so the only way to find out is when it’s too late.

Prematurity

Babies who were born prematurely are at especially high risk for SIDS because their brain is still underdeveloped.

Thankfully, the risk goes down as their brain development catches up.

Respiratory infection 

Many infants who die from SIDS have recently had a cold or other respiratory infection.

Sleeping on their stomach or side

Because infants have limited control over their head and neck, sleeping on their side or stomach puts them at a high risk for suffocation. 

Babies should always sleep on their back to keep their airway open.

Sleeping on a soft surface

This again increases their risk for suffocation.

It is easy for your baby to accidentally roll or turn their head, and be unable to move their face to get more air.

Co-sleeping

While there are many new advocates for co-sleeping, such as Dr. Sears, the American Academy of Pediatrics still warns against it.

Risks of co-sleeping include rolling over the baby and accidental asphyxiation.

Chances increase greatly if one parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you are unable to stay awake for night feedings, I recommend a co-sleeper such as this one to keep baby near, but still give them a separate surface. 

This co-sleeper folds down on one side so that you can slide baby in, and flips up again if you need more physical separation.

Overheating

Overheating is another significant risk factor for SIDS.

Babies should always sleep in a cool room between 68-72 degrees F, or 20-22.2 degrees C.

 

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke increases your baby’s risk of respiratory infection or illness, which in turn increases their risk of SIDS.

You should never smoke near your baby.

 

Baby’s Sex

Male infants are at a slightly higher risk of SIDS, but only slightly. 

Ethnicity

Non-caucasian babies are at a higher risk for SIDS.

Again, researchers do not understand why.

Vaccinations

I’ve been hesitant to include this, because I don’t want to get into the debate.

 

However, several of the vaccine inserts given to infants at ages 2, 4, and 6 months (when they are most at risk for SIDS) specifically list SIDS as an adverse side effect.

 

Here is the Dtap insert from the FDA where SIDS is listed at the bottom of page 12.

 

That being said, the AAP is extremely firm in their stance that vaccinations are safe for babies.

 

 Maternal risk factors

There are several maternal factors that increase a baby’s risk of SIDS.

Factors include smoking, being under the age of 20, using drugs or alcohol during or after pregnancy, and not receiving proper prenatal care. 

 

Tips to Prevent SIDS

While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of SIDS, there are many steps that parents can take to ensure that their baby is as safe as possible.

Related: My Baby Almost Died of SIDS- These Products Saved Her Life

 

Here are 12 tips to keep your baby safe:

1. Always put baby to sleep on their back

This is the biggie. Since the launch of the Back to Sleep, recorded cases of SIDS have dropped 71%.

That being said, there is speculation that the real number is somewhere between 30-40% because of a change in the way that infant deaths are classified.

Either way, it’s significant.

If your baby is able to roll onto her tummy by herself, there is no need to worry. But until then, it is important to always lay your baby on her back.

2. Always Place baby to sleep on a Firm, flat surface

Use a firm mattress with a well-fitted sheet. The use of loose sheets, soft cushions and fluffy blankets pose a suffocation risk to small babies.

3. Share a room, but not a bed

The AAP recommends room sharing with your baby until he is at least 6 months old. 

It is speculated that rooming in enables parents to catch bouts of apnea more easily.

Some parents can’t do this because of the finicky sounds that babies make when they sleep. 

In my experience, sometimes room sharing is not the best sleeping arrangement for a family.

If room sharing is not for your family, rooming out can be done safely with the use of a an oxygen and heart rate monitor such as the Owlet.

 

Standard audio and visual monitors can be used as well- or none. People have had their babies room out on and off for centuries.

 

What it really boils down to is both your comfort level and your baby’s risk level.

 

If your baby is premature or has a heart defect, and you are unable to sleep in the same room, an oxygen monitor can decrease the risks of SIDS significantly, and help you get more sleep too.

 

4. Keep crib or bassinet bare

This is pretty straight forward, but always a little disappointing (baby toys are and blankets are so cute).

 

No crib bumpers, pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals.

Sorry.

5. Don’t use blankets

 

Opt for warm clothing or a swaddle such as this one. Do not use the blanket-style muslin swaddles when your baby is sleeping.

 

I know, they are the most adorable thing. But babies can easily squirm out of them, causing the blanket to ride up over their face and suffocate them.

 

When your baby is able to roll over, stop using the swaddle immediately. They could get stuck face-first on their belly.

If your baby still has a strong startle reflex and struggles to sleep without a swaddle, consider a Magic Merlin’s Sleep Suit or Zipadee.

 

 

6. Breastfeed for as long as possible

 

Researchers agree that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS.

 

At a minimum, it keeps you from falling asleep with the bottle in their mouth.

 

7. Keep the room cool

To avoid overheating, keep the room temperature between 68-72 degrees F, or 20-22.2 degrees C.

8. Turn on a fan

An overhead fan is the best option for air circulation. 

Realistically, most of us aren’t going to install one though.

In that case, a standing fan pointed in the direction of your baby’s crib will be just fine.

9. Give a pacifier

A pacifier? Who knew.

Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS by creating a gap between your baby’s nose and their sleeping surface or blankets.

Cool, huh?

10. Practice tummy time

As soon as your baby is able, get into the habit of practicing tummy time.

This helps to strengthen his back and neck, giving him the ability to move his face if it were to become covered while sleeping.

11. Don’t smoke around the baby

Smoking around babies is pretty taboo nowadays, but it should still be noted.

Secondhand smoke greatly increases a baby’s risk of respiratory infection, which in turn increases the risk of SIDS.

You can protect your baby by giving up smoking, or committing to smoking where they will not be exposed.

12. Research vaccinations

 

Vaccinations are seen as both a personal and public health matter. With the debate in full rage, I don’t feel that this is the place to get into it.

 

As noted above, during the time that your baby is most at risk for SIDS, they are scheduled for routine vaccinations that list SIDS as a side effect.

 

That being said, the AAP, CDC, and WHO are all very insistent that vaccinations are safe.

 

Whichever side of the fence you are on, consider reading the research and listening to concerns from the other side.

 

If you are unsure where you stand, I would also encourage you to take a look at the European schedule where fewer people are coming forth with experiences and concerns about adverse effects.

 

13. Use an oxygen monitor

Oxygen monitors such as the Owlet can alert you if your baby’s oxygen level begins to drop too low, or if their heart rate falls out of the normal range.

This is especially helpful if your baby falls into a deep sleep and is unable to rouse himself.

Of course an oxygen monitor should never be used to compensate for placing your baby in unsafe sleep conditions.

 

As a mom, I know that you would do anything for your baby. You would throw yourself in front of a bus for her if you had to.

 

While you can’t completely eliminate your baby’s risk of SIDS, there are a hellova lot of things you can do to protect her.

 

Twenty years ago (and beyond), moms would have killed for the resources and knowledge that we have today.

 

So act. Put these things into practice.

Live every day knowing that you have done your best to keep your little person safe and happy.

And remember

.

.

.

You are a good mom.

 

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Comparing the Snuza Hero and the Owlet

Comparing the Snuza Hero and the Owlet

 

When my second daughter, Petra, was a month and a half old, she stopped breathing.

She was wearing a movement monitor called the Snuza Hero, when the alarm went off during her afternoon nap.

 

I ran over to my daughter, picked her up, and gave her a shake. She took a big gasp of air and continued sleeping.

In that moment I knew we could have lost her. I also knew that I was never letting her sleep without a baby monitor again.

And I’m glad that I didn’t. Over the next month, her alarm went off two more times.

Related: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome- Causes and 12 Tips for Prevention

 

 

Switching to the Owlet

One of the big hurdles we faced with Petra’s Snuza Hero was night time sleeping.

I wasn’t confident in my ability to hear her alarm if it went off in her crib, especially wrapped under a swaddle. 

To make things worse, she struggled to stay asleep on her back. She slept best on her side or belly, which goes against the AAP’s Safe Sleep Recommendations. Sleeping in either of these positions also renders the Snuza Hero ineffective.

 

The only way that I could get any sleep was to put her on top of me with her face next to my ear.

 

Did my logic make sense at the time?  Probably not. Was it the safest sleep solution? Um, the AAP would say ‘no’.

 

It was the only short term solution that made sense to me. But clearly, it was not going to be sustainable.

 

So for Christmas I asked that my only gift be the Owlet.

 

 

 

 

What is the Owlet?

The Owlet is a baby monitor that is placed on the baby’s foot. It monitors both oxygen and heart rate.

When your baby’s oxygen level drops too low, or their heart rate rises or falls outside of the normal range, a very loud alarm will go off on both the docking station (placed anywhere inside of your home), and on your phone.

 

This means you and any other caregiver can monitor your baby’s heart rate and oxygen level from anywhere in the world, and be alerted the moment your baby is in danger.

 

My Experience with the Owlet

The first week that we were using the Owlet, the alarm went off. This affirmed my suspicion that the Snuza Hero was probably going off appropriately.

 

The Owlet has two types of alarms. One alarm will sound if the monitor has shifted out of place or goes out of range of your Wifi. It’s a loud, somewhat annoying melody. It’s annoying enough to get your attention, but not as bad as a phone alarm.

 

The other alarm sounds like an amber alert on steroids. It’s goes off on both the docking station and your phone, simultaneously. It also causes your phone to light up and flash rapidly.

 

If you’ve never crapped your pants before, this will do it for you.

 

Why I prefer the Owlet over the Snuza Hero

 

The Snuza Hero was a huge asset for us. It saved my daughter’s life, and for that I am beyond grateful.

 

That being said, it has some significant flaws that the Owlet makes up for.

 

The first flaw is that the Snuza can easily be placed incorrectly, resulting in false alarms.

 

It must be placed quite snugly against your baby’s belly. If your baby tips to their side or on their stomach, it could shift, resulting in false alarms.

 

The Owlet does not have false alarms. If it is struggling to get an accurate reading, the melody will play. It’s not possible to mistake it for the alarm indicating low oxygen levels or change in heart rate.

 

The second flaw is that it can be easy to miss the Snuza’s alarm.

 

The Snuza clips onto your baby’s diaper, and can be covered with clothing, swaddles, or blankets. Each layer muffles the sound of the alarm a little bit more.

 

If your baby rolls onto their stomach and stops breathing while wearing the Snuza, you will not be able to hear the alarm. But with the Owlet, you will. This is extremely beneficial when your baby starts rolling over but is still at risk of SIDS. 

 

The third flaw of the Snuza Hero is that it is difficult if not impossible to hear the alarm if you are in a different room.

 

Our apartment is small, so it wasn’t a concern for me. But if you live in a big house or want to take a step outside, the Snuza would be pointless.

 

A huge perk of the Owlet is that you can hear the alarm from anywhere. Not only is it loud on the docking station, but because it can link to your phone, you can be notified from virtually anywhere in the world.

 

My only criticism about the Owlet is that occasionally the Owlet Smart Sock would fall off, triggering the melody to play. It was more annoying for my husband than it was for me.

 

To fix this problem I just slip a sock over my daughter’s foot. It helps keep the Smart Sock securely in place.

  

HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE OWLET

I have always been paranoid about my baby’s breathing to some degree, but having the Owlet puts my mind at ease.

 

As long as my daughter is wearing the Owlet, I know that she is safe.

 

The Owlet is hands-down my most recommended product for parents of small babies.

 

Between assurance that your baby is safe, and the extra sleep you will get from not worrying, it is well worth the investment.

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Deal on Nursing Bras

Best Deal on Nursing Bras

If you are preparing to breastfeed, say goodbye to your old bras. Sadly, they won’t do the trick anymore.

 

Everything about your bust is going to expand and contract like a pool of water during a bipolar Minnesota spring.

 

 

You need a nursing bra that is suuuper stretchy, has padding to cover your bits when they start pointing out like Pinnochio’s nose, and doesn’t have underwires.

 

Underwire bras are one way to meet the devil himself- Mastitis.

 

Unless you like getting sucker punched in the boob and popping antibiotics like tic tacs, steer clear of underwire bras. Please.

*This post contains an affiliate link. You can read my full, anticlimactic disclosure here.

 

If you are looking for the best deal on nursing bras, this is it. There is a 3 pack of nursing bras on Amazon for less than $10 each. They even come with extra bra extenders and clips.

 

 

 

 

These bad boys should be able to get you through at least a year of breastfeeding, if not more. Mine are still going strong after 2.5 years.

Almost all of my lactating friends also have them and love ’em.

 

They are the best selling nursing bra on Amazon with a 4.5 overall rating.

Okay, that’s all! Pin it, buy it, pass it on.

 

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Breastfeeding in Public- Your Legal Rights and Tips for Success

Breastfeeding in Public- Your Legal Rights and Tips for Success

Confession: before having kids, I had a pretty douchey attitude toward breastfeeding in public.

I don’t remember it, but my mom vividly recalls me saying something harsh to my sister about covering up while she was feeding her newborn.

 

 

Being a jerk is not beyond me, so I don’t even question whether or not this happened. I trust my mother’s memory more than my own.

 

My sister was pretty good at blowing off my comment. She could care less what anyone thinks, especially me.

 

Now that I’m a breastfeeding mom, I am appalled by my former actions. I probably would have felt really hurt and ashamed if someone had said that to me.

To say that I deeply regret my words is an understatement.

 

After giving birth to my first daughter, it took all of three seconds for my boobs to move to the bottom of the sexual totem pole. My pinky toes now have more sex appeal.

 

During that time I also came to the realization that breastfeeding is really freaking hard! I needed all the support I could get.

If my only option was to cover up, it would have been impossible for me to leave the house. Like, ever.

 

So, while all of us breastfeeding moms aware that breastfeeding is far from sexual, and is actually extremely difficult, the rest of the world is still catching up.

 

Thankfully, the rest of the world has made great strides in recent years.

*This post contains a few photos which are affiliate links. You can read my super anticlimactic disclosure here.

 

 

What Does the Law Say About Breastfeeding in Public?

public breastfeeding laws 

In 2018, it officially became legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states! Hurray! What took so long?!

 

Seriously, the right to feed a hungry baby should be a no-brainer.

 

While public breastfeeding is legal, each state words their laws about it a little differently.

 

Some states such as Florida state that they “allow a mother to breastfeed in any public or private location,” whereas states such as Iowa only specify “the right to breastfeed in any public place.”

 

What’s the difference between a public location and a private location? Good question.

 

According to Privacy Observer, “What determines whether a given location is public, is whether it is open to the public.”

 

Any privately owned business that is open to the public is considered a public location. It doesn’t matter if the land owner and the person who owns every single share despise breastfeeding without a cover, your rights remain.

 

That means that if Ted, the owner of the burger joint down the street tells you that you have to cover up because you have no right to breastfeed in his private business, you can tell him to shove it.

 

That’s right Ted, shove it.

 

If you were breastfeeding in Ted’s house, that would be another story. But who really wants to hang out at Ted’s house with their baby if he’s going to be like that?

 

Do you want to know exactly what the public breastfeeding laws are in your state? This website will tell you all about it.

 

I’m working on creating state-specific printables right now. That’s right, all 50 of them. It is a labor of love your you, my friends.

 

If you sign up below, I’ll send you the link to download your state printable as soon as they are ready! This should be somewhere between 1-3 weeks from now. It depends on how much work my toddler lets me do every day.

 

 

 

Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

Now that we have established that breastfeeding in public is completely legal, it’s time to learn how.

 

There’s no right or wrong way to breastfeed in public. You are fully within your rights to whip out your boob in front of anyone and everyone, or sneak it out stealthily.

 

The important thing is that you do what is comfortable for you.

 

If you’re like my sister who doesn’t care, go ahead and pull the whole thing out. Honestly, it’s the easiest way to feed a newborn.

 

But if you’re like some of my more modest friends, here are some tips to make breastfeeding in public a little less awkward for people who are only comfortable around dairy-free boobs:

 

  • Practice at home in front of a mirror. While your eyeballs might be full of nipple and areola, chances are high that those around you can’t see anything. Your baby’s head is going to obscure most, if not all of their view. Perfect your practice by getting an idea of what they see with a mirror.

  • Wear clothes designed specifically for breastfeeding. While it’s possible to breastfeed in most clothes, having some designed specifically for breastfeeding can make life a hellova lot easier, especially in the early days when babies aren’t very good at latching. I highly recommend nursing clothes because they are an easy way to breastfeed discreetly without carrying extra gear.

 

  • Use a nursing cover. Nursing covers come in a few different styles. Some loop around the back of your neck with a bendy metal thing to help you see baby’s face (top photo), while others are like a stretchy infinity scarf (bottom photo). Nursing covers can get warm, but they are the easiest way to breastfeed without the off-chance of someone getting a glimpse of skin *gasp*


  • Nurse your baby in a front carrier. Many baby carriers make it easy to breastfeed your baby while wearing them. This is very difficult if not impossible to do with newborns, but it gets increasingly easier as they get older. Most people will never guess that you’re breastfeeding. They’ll assume that your baby is taking a snooze.

How to Handle Uncomfortable Situations while breastfeeding in public

 

Just because breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states, it doesn’t mean that everyone knows it. A lot of people aren’t aware of the new laws in place to protect nursing mothers.

 

This means that it is entirely possible to run into uncomfortable situations.

 

Hopefully that never happens to you, but if it does, here are some tips to handle the situation:

 

  • Try to remain calm and turn your body away from the offender.

  • If you feel unsafe, don’t hesitate to call the police.

  • Whip out your handy dandy copy of your state’s breastfeeding laws. Sign up to get yours soon-ish.

  • Ask to speak to a manager.

  • File a complaint with the business. This can be done on the spot or at a later date when things have calmed down.

  • Report them to the Better Business Bureau.

 

If you thrive off of confrontation:

  • Videotape the encounter

  • Post said video to social media. Public awareness is priceless.
  • Stage a nurse-in with your friends because, why not?

 

Well, there you go friends. I hope this helps you breastfeed in public like the boss babe you are.

 

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletters where I will be sending out a link to download your state-specific breastfeeding laws in the next few weeks, and share this with a friend.

 

 

 

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Never Change Another Wet Diaper at Night

Never Change Another Wet Diaper at Night

Changing diapers in the middle of the night is the WORST. Okay, so maybe colic is the worst, but you get my point.

 

Not only are you doing it in a blurry haze with one eye open, but you are desperately trying to keep your baby asleep at the same time.

 

One wrong move and you might be up for two hours.

 

Fortunately for all of us, I picked up a tip from seasoned mothers. It is currently saving me hours of sleep and at least one set of piss-soaked pajamas right now.

 

This post contains an affiliate link. My disclosure policy is super anticlimactic, but feel free to read it here.

 

Here’s the hack:

  • Buy diapers one size larger than baby wears
  • Place them snugly enough on baby so that the leg holes seal. This is very important.
  • Cover bum, crevices, and everything in between with a thick layer of diaper ointment. A&D ointment works amazingly.

 

And wala! No more wet diapers to change at night, and no baby rash.

 

Enjoy your extra sleep, and change baby’s diaper in the morning as usual.

 

Pay it forward by sharing this with another sleep deprived mom, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive more quick hacks!

 

 

 

 

Disclaimers:

  • Only works with disposable diapers (to my knowledge)

  • Only do this for wet diapers. You should always change a poop. But I didn’t need to tell you that.

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