Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death or cot death because the infants often die during sleep in their cribs.

Although SIDS is rare, it is one of the most common causes of death in babies between one and 12 months of age. Most SIDS deaths happen in babies two to four months old, and cases rise during cold weather. Black and Native American infants are more likely to die of SIDS than Caucasian infants. More boys than girls fall victim to SIDS.

SIDS has no symptoms or warning signs. Babies who die of SIDS seem healthy before being put to bed. They show no signs of struggle and are often found in the same position as when they were placed in the bed.

Parents can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths:

  • Get early and regular prenatal care. Avoiding alcohol and drug misuse.
  • Don’t smoke while you are pregnant. Don’t expose your baby to second-hand smoke after your baby is born.
  • Breastfeed your baby, it may give some protection against SIDs.
  • Cover the mattress with a fitted sheet and no other bedding. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the sleep area. Ensure baby is not too hot during sleep. Dress baby in a fitted, one-piece sleep-wear and set room temperature so it is comfortable for you.
  • Creating safe sleep environments will reduce the risks of infant death. Visit Sleep Safe – Infants for more information.
  • The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets Canadian government safety standards.
  • Sleep in the same room as your baby, but with baby in his or her own crib, cradle or bassinet.
  • Infants should be placed on their backs when sleeping.
  • Make sure your baby gets all recommended immunizations (KidsHealth). Studies have shown that babies who receive their vaccines have a 50 per cent lower risk of SIDS. Visit Childhood Immunizations for more information.

There is no sure way to prevent SIDS, and no examination or test can predict whether a baby is likely to die of SIDS. It’s no one’s fault. SIDS can happen even when you do everything right. The loss of a baby is felt differently by each family member. It may be beneficial to reach out for supports during this time of loss.

Services related to this information:

  • 811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555
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Last updated: 2021-10-01