Nothing you did caused the baby's death. Nothing
you could have done would have prevented it.
2. Did our baby suffer?
SIDS happens very suddenly and all at once. The baby may move a little
in the last few seconds. This accounts for the crumpled covers or unusual
positions in which babies are sometimes found. Babies do not cry out and
show no sign of having been disturbed in their sleep. They simply stop
breathing and die very peacefully.
3. Could the baby have vomited
Vomiting or choking does not cause SIDS. Sometimes milk or a blood-tinged
froth is found around the baby's mouth, nose, or on the bedding. This
happened after the baby died. The autopsy shows that this fluid did not
block the airway.
4. Could the baby have suffocated
in the blankets?
Sometimes the baby is found wedged into a corner of the crib or with the
blankets over his or her head. At times, the baby's face may be pressed
down into the pillow or mattress; it may be discolored. It is natural
to think that the baby smothered.
Researchers have found that babies can get plenty of oxygen even when
covered by bedding. Even very young babies will move their heads to breathe.
Suffocation does not cause SIDS.
5. Is SIDS contagious? Could
our older children get it?
SIDS is not contagious. It cannot be spread from person to person. There
is no need to be afraid of touching the clothing, bedding, or furniture
of the baby who died of SIDS. SIDS only happens to babies. Older children
do not die of SIDS.
6. Our baby had just gotten
her DTP shot. Is SIDS caused by DTP?
SIDS is not caused by the DTP shot or any other immunization. This has
been shown by several studies. SIDS happens in babies who have never had
shots of any kind. SIDS happens at the same rate in countries where DTP
is given at a later age or not at all.
7. My baby seemed so bruised.
Could SIDS have been caused by child abuse?
SIDS is not caused by child abuse or neglect. Sometimes a SIDS death may
not be discovered for a few hours. The changes that happen in the baby's
body after the death may make it look like the baby was injured. But everyone-the
police, paramedics, parents, and caregivers should realize that these
changes after death are normal.
8. Would it have helped if
our baby had been breast-fed?
Breast-feeding does not prevent SIDS. SIDS has happened all through recorded
time, even when most babies were breast-fed. SIDS happens to both breast-fed
and bottle-fed babies.
9. What about babies we might
have in the future?
SIDS is not hereditary. Most future babies (over 99 out of 100) will not
die of SIDS. You can learn more about it by talking to your doctor.
10. I know I need to get on
with my life, but I can't seem to. What should I expect?
The loss of a baby is very traumatic. You can expect to experience many
emotions over a period of time. After the shock and numbness of the first
few days begin to wear off, you may feel very depressed. You may have
trouble sleeping, feel dizzy or have headaches, have no appetite, and
feel "tied in knots" inside. You may lean on family and friends
for help, but may also have feelings of guilt and resentment that hinder
At times your grief may seem unbearable and you may
feel that you can't go on. Seeking help through a support group can begin
the healing process. You can share your feelings with others who have
experienced the same feelings at the loss of their baby to SIDS. In time
you will be able to get back to functioning normally.
11. What do we tell our other
It is always better to be clear about the baby's death. Statements like:
"The baby went away" or "The baby is sleeping in peace"
only tend to worry and confuse children. It is important to explain that
SIDS happens only to babies and not to older children or adults.
12. What effect will our baby's
death have on our other children?
Smaller children may need more love and affection. They may have frightening
thoughts that they cannot express: Did I cause the baby to die? Will I
die too? Will Mommy and Daddy die? They may become "clingy"
and do other things to get attention. It is very important for them to
know that they are loved and secure.
Older brothers and sisters will go through their grief
in different ways depending on their ages and past experiences. They may
be very sad or may not show their feelings at all.
It's a good idea to be open in talking about thoughts and feelings. As
you talk about it, your children will be better able to talk about how
13. How will we deal with
this a year from now?
The first year after your baby's death will be the hardest, and your baby's
first birthday and the anniversary of his or her death may be two very
difficult times. Even if you seem better, the sadness and pain may return.
Do something to remember your baby and to help ease your anxiety. While
sadness will remain with you forever, the memories of your baby are some
of the most important "keepsakes" you will have. You can treasure
those memories and share them with others.