October: SIDS Awareness Month

By Lindsay Hornell, BSW, B.A., Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University

October is National SIDS Awareness Month, so it is important to know what SIDS is and how you, as a caregiver, can prevent it from happening. According to the National SUID/SIDS Resource Center, SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under the age of one that cannot be explained after an investigation and an autopsy. In addition to SIDS, another related syndrome is SUID, or Sudden and Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome. SUID is when an infant under the age of one's death is not immediately obvious before an investigation. SIDS is a type of SUID along with hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature), hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature), neglect, and accidental suffocation (National SUID/SIDS Resource Center, n.d.). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States 4.500 infants die because of SUIDs and half of these deaths are due to SIDS.

With SIDS being the number one cause of death between infants 1 to12 months old, it is important to know how to keep your grandchild safe. For example:

  1. Place your infant grandchild to sleep on his/her back for naps and at night. If your grandchild is able to roll over onto his/her tummy it is okay to leave them that way.
  2. Make sure your infant grandchild is sleeping on a firm sleep surface.
  3. Keep all objects out of your grandchild's crib. He/she does not need a pillow, stuffed animals, bumper pads, or blankets in the crib.
  4. It is okay to sleep in the same room as your infant grandchild, but not in the same bed.
  5. Keep your grandchild away from smokers and places where people smoke.
  6. Do not let your infant grandchild get too hot. Instead of a blanket, use a sleep sack at night for your grandchild. A sleep sack is sleeveless, zip up bag that keeps your grandchild warm, but is much safer than a blanket.
  7. Let your grandchild use a pacifier at night and during naps. Pacifiers have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  8. Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. They have not been shown to reduce SIDS and have actually caused suffocation in some cases.
  9. Give your infant grandchild plenty of "tummy time". Place your grandchild on his/her tummy to help strengthen his or her neck muscles. It is important to always be with your grandchild during tummy time (Healthy Children. Org, 2011)

If you follow these steps you will reduce the chances that SIDS or SUID becomes a reality in your home. For more information on SIDS/SUID please contact your pediatrician or visit http://www.cdc.gov/sids.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Suddent Infant Death Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/sids.

Healthy Children. Org (2011). Reduce the Risk of SIDS. Retrieved from http://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/baby/sleep/pages/Preventing-SIDS.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken .

Death, Infant Mortality, Stillbirth, & Miscarriage. Retrieved from http://www.sidscenter.org/definitions.html.