Can pacifiers help reduce the risk of SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old, and claims the lives of about 2,500 infants each year in the United States. It remains unpredictable, despite years of research. When considering which babies could be most at risk, no single risk factor is likely to be sufficient to cause a SIDS death. Rather, several risk factors combined may contribute to cause an at-risk infant to die of SIDS.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but some way to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby are:

  • Offering a pacifier. Recent studies show that the use of pacifiers during sleep can help prevent SIDS by up to 90%. There are many theories on why SIDS is reduced with pacifier use. These may include tongue position, threshold for arousal, airway potency and sleep position. If your baby isn't interested in a pacifier, don't force it. Try again another day. 
  • Place your baby on their back to sleep, rather that their stomach. Babies who are placed on their stomachs to sleep have a higher risk of being suffocated. This isn't necessary when your baby is awake or is able to roll over without help. 
  • Keep the crib as bare as possible. Use a firm mattress and avoid placing your baby on a thick quilt, fluffy padding, or pillows. Also, don't leave fluffy toys or stuffed animals in the crib, these may interfere with breathing if your baby’s face is pressed agains them. 
  • Don’t overheat your baby.  To keep your baby warm, try a sleep sack or other sleeping clothing that doesn't require additional covers. 
  • Baby should sleep alone. Having your baby sleep in the same room as you may be your preference, but adult beds aren't a safe place for infants. Your baby should have their own space to sleep. By bringing your baby in bed with you, you are putting them at risk for being smothered by blankets or worse. 
  • Breastfeed your baby, if possible.  Breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months may lower risk of SIDS as per the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Knowing that using a pacifier may help reduce their risk of SIDS, Dr. D’Alesio, a pediatric dentist in Pittsburg, Pa and inventor of Lily Method Pacifier Weaning System, encouraged the use of pacifiers with all four of her children up until age 1. 

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