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Sleep Safety

What is SIDS?

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than one year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation.

Sleep-related causes of infant death are those linked to the baby's sleep conditions. These deaths are generally due to accidental causes, such as suffocation; entrapment (when baby gets trapped between two objects), such as a mattress and wall, and can’t breathe, or strangulation.


Top Tips to Reduce SIDS Risk

1. Always place a baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night, to reduce the risk of SIDS. The back sleep position is the safest position for all babies.

2. Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved Baby Box, crib or bassinet, covered by a fitted sheet, to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Do not use a car seat, carrier, swing, or similar product as baby’s everyday sleep area. Never place baby to sleep on soft surfaces, such as on a couch or sofa, pillows, or blankets. When using your Baby Box, place it on the floor or on a sturdy, secure surface like a coffee table. To make sure your sleep space is safe, you can contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 or

3. Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, couch, on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else. Room sharing – keeping baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep – reduces the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. If you bring your baby into your bed to breastfeed, make sure to put him or her back in a safe, separate sleep area in your room.

4. Keep soft objects – toys, crib bumpers, and loose bedding--out of your baby’s sleep area to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Don’t use pillows, blankets, or crib bumpers anywhere in your baby’s sleep area. Evidence does not support using crib bumpers to prevent injury. In fact, crib bumpers can cause serious injuries and even death.

5. Embrace a healthy lifestyle. Get regular prenatal care during pregnancy and don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born. According to the American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies born to women who smoked during pregnancy die from SIDS three times more often than babies born to nonsmokers. Once baby is born, do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby, and make sure to bring your baby to all of his or her doctor recommended check-ups.

6. Breastfeed to help reduce the risk of SIDS. While breastfeeding is natural, it is not always easy, so seek out help when needed. Most hospitals have lactation consultants on staff, and you can always seek out your local La Leche League group for additional support.

7. Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep. Dress your baby in no more than one layer more of clothing than you would wear to be comfortable. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.

8. Avoid products like wedges and sleep positioners that can create a risk of entrapment.

9. Give your baby plenty of tummy time when he or she is awake and when someone is watching. Supervised tummy time helps your baby’s neck, shoulder, and arm muscles get stronger, which can help your baby push away if he or she has rolled into a corner or against the side of the crib. It also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s head.


Q. What is the best way to reduce my baby’s risk for SIDS?
A. Placing your baby on his or her back to sleep for every sleep time is the very best way to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Q. Will my baby choke on spit-up if placed on the back to sleep?
A. No. Healthy babies naturally swallow or cough up fluids – it’s a reflex all people have. Babies might actually clear fluids better when on their backs.

Q. What if my baby rolls onto the stomach on his or her own during sleep? Do I need to put my baby in the back sleep position again if this happens?
A. No. Rolling over is an important and natural part of your baby’s growth. Most babies start rolling over on their own around four to six months of age. If your baby rolls over on his or her own during sleep, you do not need to turn the baby over onto his or her back. The important thing is that the baby start off every sleep time on his or her back to reduce the risk of SIDS, and that there is no soft, loose bedding in the baby's sleep area.

Q. Can I use a sleep positioner or wedge?
A. No. Sleep positioners and wedges are now considered suffocation hazards. Only a few years ago these were marketed as SIDS prevention devices, yet now they are known to be dangerous. If your baby spits up a lot or has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux, you may consider raising the head of the Baby Box or crib mattress. Remember, nothing goes in the Baby Box or crib except the baby and a tight fitting crib sheet.

Q. I like to sleep with my baby, especially when he or she needs to feed during the night. Is this safe?
A. Unfortunately, sleeping with your baby in the same bed, or “co-sleeping,” puts your baby at significant risk for suffocation. It is especially dangerous to sleep with your baby on a couch, a waterbed, or a bed with a comforter. Sadly, many babies die when they get wedged between a parent and a couch cushion or get their faces buried in bedding. Instead of co-sleeping, try using a Baby Box or bedside bassinet to make life easier when your baby wakes frequently in the night. Be sure that your baby’s bed is SIDS safe -- many beds such as Moses baskets and beds with soft bedding and blankets are not safe.

Q. I have a crib set with a bumper, blanket, stuffed animal and other matching pieces. Is it safe?
A. No. Nothing should go in a sleeping space except the baby and a tight fitting crib sheet. The “crib sets” marketed by many retail stores include many unsafe items.

Q. How long should my baby sleep on his or her back?
A. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs until they are one year of age.

    Make sure everyone who cares for your baby (includes grandparents, babysitters and childcare providers, older siblings, and others) knows how to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers. They may think one time won’t matter, but it can. When a baby who usually sleeps on his back is suddenly laid on his stomach to sleep, the risk of SIDS is very high.

    Help family members, babysitters, daycare workers— EVERYONE—reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS and ensure a safe sleep area for your baby. Share these safe sleep messages with everyone who cares for your baby or for any baby younger than one year of age.


     This sleep safety information is provided courtesy of the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

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