Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for Nannies and Au Pairs

In the April 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter we discuss some of the most popular sleep methods for helping infants to sleep.

One of the most important topics about infant sleep is preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

To reduce the incidence of SIDS, the following strategies have been recommended by research scientists and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on SIDS:

By now all caregivers should know to never smoke around children. Second hand smoke is dangerous to everyone.
Avoid overdressing the baby to prevent infant overheating. Keep the temperature in the baby’s room at a level that feels comfortable to a lightly clothed adult and avoid overdressing the baby.
Avoid using soft, fluffy or loose bedding in the crib, and should not use pillows, sheepskins or comforters under the baby. Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering. Make sure your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep (even during the day).

Placing babies on their backs to sleep is the single most important step that parents and nannies can take to reduce the risk of SIDS. In 1994, the AAP instituted the “Back to Sleep” Campaign, and since then, the number of SIDS babies has declined by 40%.

Do not share a sleep surface with a baby to feed, sleep, or even cuddle.

Recent research has shown that pacifiers can significantly reduce a baby’s risk for SIDS. Experts recommend providing your baby with a pacifier EVERY time they are placed down to sleep.

Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of death for infants in their first year of life. If possible, mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six-months.

Unfortunately, SIDS can occur even if parents and caregivers follow all of these guidelines carefully. Researchers have yet to find foolproof tests to predict which babies are at highest risk for SIDS. Although research is identifying an increased number of risk factors for SIDS, it still occurs in the most capable, cautious, and loving families.
For more information, please check out:
Have you ever worked for parents that do not follow all these recommendations to prevent SIDS? Do you follow these tips to prevents SIDS?


  1. I am the mother that spoke with the editor of this newsletter this weekend. I love the newsletter but it suggests in the April issue that babies should not cosleep with parents. I know about SIDS. I have had a nanny quit over the fact that we allow our infant sleep in our bed. But I agree with attachment parenting and there are safer ways to have a baby sleep in the bed with parents.I agree you printed the proper information and it is a danger. Below are some ways to protect a baby while keeping her close to her parents at night.Nests – An enclosed area where baby can sleep between pillows in a large bed. Wedges/Body Pillows – Placing these products under a fitted sheet will provide a barrier between baby and the edge of the family bed. Co-Sleepers (or Co-Sleeping Beds) –A bassinette that attaches to the side of an adult bed.Nannies don't judge too quickly since there are ways to keep infants safe while cosleeping.

  2. I began my nanny career before all the research and studies came out about the importance of "back to sleep." (I grew up hearing about placing a baby on a stomach to protect against flat heads due to soft spots.) THE REASON, I mention all of this is because of the importance for nannies to not just rely on experience to carry themselves through on childcare and development. Continue your education. Even my current bosses had to educate their parents about all of this when my charge was born. If you have employers that seem resistant to any sensible advice or information out there, don't turn it into just a difference of opinion. Back things up with factual tipsheets, the child's wellbeing is what matters most.What I would like to ADD though is just how important tummy time is while babies are awake. This doesn't get emphasized enough in the SIDS training information (in my experience now.) It doesn't matter if that baby doesn't like it or cries a lot. They will get used to it over time. It's best for muscle development, and helps prevent other skull formation issues. My charge has a big head, hated tummy time (We gave in to him and he ended up needing a corrective helmet for a few months.)

  3. One of my previous employer's lost their infant to SIDS! A parent gave the nighttime feeding in a rocking chair. The parent and baby fell asleep upright in the chair and when the parent woke the baby wasn't breathing.They did everything right. The parent blames himself for baby being too warm?! He did not smother the baby, dress the baby too warm, do anything wrong. It just happens.

  4. I am disturbed by the mother's comments above that sound defensive about there being safe ways to co-sleep with an infant.A bassinette that attaches to the side of an adult bed is the only option for co-sleeping with an infant.I would rather take the advice of the pediatricians than one mother's opinion. Too dangerous to sleep with an infant in the same bed.

  5. I am a career Nanny with 21 years behinded me.Recently a family members babies died that way sleeping in the same bed. The baby was only 2 months ago. SIDS most baby died before they our 1 years old.I would never work for a family that would put their own flesh and blood in danger. Let alone a Nanny do something like that. You never have your children sleep with you. They have their own bed. You have the basketnet in the room with when their newborns.

  6. I used to think everyone knew (parent and nanny) these guidelines to prevent SIDS but clearly a lot of people don't. I used to think my former boss was just dysfunctional sleeping in bed with daughter instead of with her husband (like the mom didn't want to sleep with husband so she slept with child instead). But there are doctor and parents that believe kids sleeping with their parents is a good thing. Not worth the danger!

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