Winter raises Sudden Infant Death risk

A baby in Michigan dies nearly every other day due to sleeping in an unsafe sleep environment – that’s over 150 babies every year. Sleep-related deaths are the leading cause of death for infants between 1 and 12 months of age. Research has shown that infants are at a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) during the colder months.

Parents and caregivers can take steps to reduce the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In cold weather, parents and caregivers often place blankets and extra clothing on their infants to keep them warm. But over bundling may cause infants to overheat, increasing their risk of SIDS, according to the National Institutes of Health. Infants are sensitive to extremes in temperature and cannot regulate their body temperatures well.

Parents and caregivers should dress infants in light clothing for sleep during naptime and nighttime. The room should be kept at a temperature that is comfortable for adults. Studies have shown that multiple layers of heavy clothing, loose blankets, and warm room temperatures increase SIDS risk. Infants who are in danger of overheating feel hot to the touch.

Unless there is a medical reason not to, infants should always be placed on their backs to sleep, naptime and nighttime, on a firm, safety-approved crib mattress covered by a tight fitting sheet with no blankets or fluffy bedding under or over them. The baby’s crib and sleep area should be free of pillows, blankets, bumpers, wedges, or stuffed animals.

It is recommended that the preferred sleep wear for an infant under the age of one is either a premium wearable blanket called a “Sleep Sack”, or a footed sleeper. A Sleep Sack is designed to keep the baby’s temperature comfortable for sleep, making blankets or quilts unnecessary.

To prevent a tragedy and protect babies, the following guidelines should always be followed during naptime and nighttime:

Always place baby on his/her back to sleep.

Baby should sleep in his or her own crib, bassinet or pack-n-play.

For at least six months, Room share instead of bed share. Pull the crib, bassinet, or pack-n-play next to the adult bed for quick and easy feeding and comforting.

Use a firm mattress covered with only a tightly fitted sheet.

Keep all items out of the crib – no blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals, etc. Use a sleep sack if baby is cold.

If baby falls asleep in any place other than a crib, bassinet or pack-n-play, move him or her to a safe place.

Keep baby’s space smoke-free.

Encourage “tummy time”. It is important to practice supervised tummy time while baby is awake to build strong neck and shoulder muscles.

Make sure everyone caring for baby knows how to keep baby safe while sleeping, including babysitters, friends and family members.

Lannie Berg, Welcome Newborn Program Coordinator stated that “Two Free HALO Sleep Sacks, premium wearable blankets, are available to Delta County parents regardless of their income”. The Sleep Sacks are available during the last three months of their pregnancy or following the birth of their baby. The Sleep Sacks are available in fleece, or cotton. The newborn size will fit babies that weigh between six and twelve pounds, and size small will fit babies between twelve and eighteen pounds. To request Sleep Sacks, call Lannie at the Welcome Newborns office at (906) 786-7080, ext. 143. or email her at