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Sleep Sacks for a Safer Sleep

SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants who are one month to one year old. Despite years of research and studies, SIDS is still unpredictable and largely unpreventable. However, research into the causes of SIDS has led doctors to recommend steps parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.

In a typical situation parents check on their sleeping baby to find him or her dead. It goes without saying that this is possibly the worse tragedy parents can face and it can impact their lives forever.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the incidence of SIDS is greatest in infants younger than 6 months of age and increases during cold weather. Potential risk factors include:
smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy
poor prenatal care
premature birth or low birth-weight
mothers younger than 20
smoke exposure following birth
baby sleeping on their stomach

Unfortunately, all SIDS deaths are not preventable. However, there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of SIDS. Thankfully the number of deaths from SIDS is dropping as parents follow these recommendations.

Perhaps the most widely recognized recommendation is that infants sleep on their backs. Infants who sleep on their stomachs and sides have a higher rate of SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs. Heavy covers are also associated with the risk for SIDS. Therefore, there should be nothing in the bed but the baby — no quilts, comforters, blankets, pillows, bumper pads or toys.

What is a Sleep Sack?
The sleep sack is a wearable blanket that replaces loose blankets and top sheets in the crib for a safer sleep. It also encourages baby to sleep on its back. It is a well-known fact that babies should be put to sleep on their backs, but not so well known are the potential dangers of loose bedding going over baby’s head and overheating by using too much bedding. The sleep sack will keep baby’s head uncovered, therefore reducing the risk of suffocation. With no loose covers in the bed, the risk for SIDS is reduced.

Baby sleep sacks have been safely used in Europe for over 20 years. Clinical studies in Holland have concluded that baby sleep sacks are potentially the safest form of bedding for babies, provided that baby is placed in the correct size sack and is wearing suitable sleepwear. Therefore, baby can sleep safely at a pleasant and constant temperature throughout the night.

What should baby wear underneath the Sleep Sack?
This will depend on the type of Sleep Sack (flannel or quilted) and the temperature of baby’s bedroom. Health professionals recommend that baby sleeps in a room that is approximately 18°C (65°F). If the nursery is warmer or colder, simply adjust the level of clothing baby is wearing, i.e. short sleeved or long sleeved bodysuit, pajamas. (In the same way as you would adjust your own nightclothes).

Visit the SIDS Canada website for more information.

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