What is SIDS and how can it be prevented?

TSIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a diagnosis given to a sudden unexpected infant death occurring during sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended in 1992 that all infants be placed on their backs for sleep. This recommendation resulted in a major decrease in the incidence of SIDS. However, there have been many recent updates on how to prevent SIDS. The new policy statement from 2011 includes additional recommendations, such as breastfeeding, immunizing infants and not using bumper pads. These are all associated with a reduced risk for SIDS. The following are also included in the recent recommendations by the AAP:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).

See more at: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/

When can my child use a pillow and blanket?

Pillows and blankets are not recommended for infants due to the risk of suffocation and death. These soft surfaces can increase the risk of SIDS up to fivefold. Parents can safely use pillows once they are about 18months old. This is about the age at which the toddler can transition to a toddler bed or a mattress on the floor. Thick blankets are not recommended because young babies can get stuck in the thick blanket and suffocate. It is recommended to layer the babies to keep them warm instead of using a blanket. Thin blankets may be used with caution; it should be tucked under the mattress so as to avoid covering the face or head.

See more at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1341.full

When should children take swimming lessons?

The AAP recommends that all children four years old and older should take swimming lessons. Children ages one to four years old may take swimming lessons as well. However, it is important to know that these types of programs and lessons may not decrease the risk of drowning for a young child. Therefore, adult supervision and safety in the water is still critical for the safety of our children. The AAP recommends practicing “touch supervision,” which is being “within an arm’s reach or able to touch the swimmer at all times.”

What is the best way to protect my child from damaging UV rays?

There are many steps to seeking protection from damaging UV rays. As recommended by the CDC:

Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it’s happened.

Cover up. Clothing that covers your child’s skin helps protect against UV rays. Although a long-sleeved shirt and long pants with a tight weave are best, they aren’t always practical. A T-shirt, long shorts, or a beach cover-up are good choices, too—but it’s wise to double up on protection by applying sunscreen or keeping your child in the shade when possible.

Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection. Baseball caps are popular among kids, but they don’t protect their ears and neck. If your child chooses a cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.

Wear sunglasses. They protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.

Sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Children do not have to be at the beach or pool to get a sunburn. Reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is important to remember, especially after swimming or exercising. Even if the product is waterproof, reapplying is necessary.

The sunscreen bottles give caution for babies under 6months of age. The best way to avoid a sunburn is to avoid the sun or stay inside. However, all infants and children need sunscreen, no matter the age, if there is going to be sun exposure. Therefore, use a small amount of the sunscreen on a portion of the body to be sure there is not a bad reaction, such as a rash, before applying the sunscreen to the entire body. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15minutes.