Safe Infant Sleep
Help Your Baby Sleep Safely
Each year, approximately 3,500 babies die unexpectedly in the United States, often during their sleep. Sometimes we know why (suffocation by fluffy bedding or a sleeping adult, for example) but in more than half of these cases, even a thorough investigation provides no answers. These unexplained infant deaths are referred to as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
You can decrease the risk of SIDS and suffocation by creating a safe sleep environment for your baby. Start with the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies should sleep ALONE, on their BACK, in a safe CRIB.
The following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics have been shown to reduce the risk of both suffocation and SIDS for babies under 1 year of age.
Tips for Safe Sleep
Put your baby to sleep on a flat, firm surface. This could be a crib or a bassinet with a tightly fitted sheet. Babies should never sleep on an adult bed, couch, chair or pillow.
Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib. Remove blankets, pillows, bumpers and toys. Dress your baby in a sleep sack or footed pajamas for warmth and safety.
Room-share—don’t bed-share. We all want our babies close by at night, but many have suffocated when sleeping next to a well-intentioned parent, sibling or pet—don’t risk it. Enjoy cuddling with your baby when breastfeeding or awake, but place them in their own crib when it’s time to sleep.
Breastfeed for the best protection. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS and many other health problems.
Place your baby on their back. Babies should never be put to sleep on their tummy or side.
Offer a pacifier. Don’t force the pacifier if your baby doesn't want it. And when it falls out during sleep, there is no need to put it back in. Breastfeeding babies can wait until they are fully accustomed to nursing before introducing a pacifier (usually about 3 to 4 weeks old).
Avoid overheating and over-bundling. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
Keep your baby’s environment smoke-free. For help quitting, go to smokefree.gov.
Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during and after pregnancy. Both increase your child’s risk of SIDS.
Avoid devices marketed to reduce SIDS. This includes wedges, positioners, special sleep surfaces and home-monitoring equipment. There is no evidence that they are safe or effective.
Encourage supervised tummy time when baby is awake. Tummy time helps to strengthen your child’s upper body and minimizes flattening on the back of the head.
Keep your child’s immunizations up-to-date. Recent studies show that immunizations have a protective effect against SIDS.