They say in order to be happy, one must look ahead and forget the past. How can one feel a bucket of cold water being poured on her body and not shiver? It is impossible. Today would have been Tolu’s seventh birthday but she died six years and seven months ago. Tolu was a very healthy baby even up till the day she died. She usually slept beside me because she cried anytime I put her in a cot to sleep.

That Tuesday, I laid her to sleep in my family size bed and started sorting the clothes. I slept at about 11:43am and got up at 6:09am on Wednesday morning. I thought she was still sleeping so I continued doing chores till 8:46am until I realized that I had a doctor’s appointment by 10:00am. I tried to wake Tolu up so that I could bathe her but she would not wake. It was then that I knew I was in trouble. My marriage to Segun was already in fragments, what would I tell him happened to his child? Clad in a T-shirt and shorts, with the help of the neighbours,Tolu was rushed to the nearby clinic. The doctor confirmed that Tolu died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The best way for me to heal was to tell other women about SIDS.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexplained death of a baby twelve months or younger dies during sleep with no warning signs or without a clear reason. The death is more common in male children, especially premature babies and occurs between 12:00am and 9:00am with no noise produced or any form of struggle. There is no known cause of SIDS but there are many risk factors. The risk factors include exposing a child to tobacco smoke, letting the child sleep on his/her stomach or side, letting the child sleep in a hot room, respiratory problems, using excessive stuffed animals, using excessive bedding or soft sleep surfaces and letting the child share a bed with parents or siblings. As a parent, you cannot totally stop SIDS, but you can prevent it by using these key steps.

  1. Put the baby to sleep on his or her back. If you are not always around, tell whoever is helping you take care of the baby to ensure your baby sleeps on his or her back. Never ever let the child sleep in a stroller or car seat for a long period of time. This will reduce the risk of SIDS.
  2. Clear up your baby’s sleep environment. Do not put blankets or toys or stuffed animals in the child’s cot. Remove all those extra beddings and put away all those plenty blankets. Open the windows and let the ventilation be as good as possible. Ensure that the child sleeps on a flat surface and remove the pacifier before bedtime. Try not to share a bed with the baby or let siblings, friends or relatives share a bed with him or her.
  3. Keep smoke away from your child. Avoid smoking while pregnant and after giving birth. Even if you do not smoke, keep your child away from second hand smoke. That may include a friend, relative, colleague or even your spouse.
  4. Treat even little cases as important. Any respiratory infection or cardiac problem requires a quick visit to the nearby clinic. Don’t just say it is something small and put anointing oil on the child’s head. Use the anointing oil and still go to the hospital.

For those mother’s that have lost babies to SIDS, I want to say that time is the only factor that can help you get through such a loss. I never thought I would recover but here am I telling it all. Here am I, the woman whose baby died.

 Written by : Galadima Gimbiya

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