Safe Sleep for Your Baby
Following safe sleep practices can help your baby sleep safely and reduce their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?
SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant younger than one year of age that remains unexplained after an autopsy, thorough death scene investigation, and medical health history review. SIDS is the leading causes of death among infants one month to one year of age. There currently is no exact way of preventing SIDS but there are steps parents can take to lower the risk.
Safe Sleep Recommendations for Baby
- Always place your baby flat on their back to sleep, for naps and at night, to reduce the risk of SIDS. Don't put your baby on their side or stomach to sleep. Parents may be afraid babies placed on their back will choke if they spit-up. However, since the Back to Sleep Campaign in 1994, the SIDS rates in the US have been reduced by more than 50% with no increase in choking deaths.
- Provide supervised tummy time when your baby is awake. Regular tummy time helps strengthen baby’s head, neck and shoulder muscles and aids in minimizing flat spots on the back of their head.
- Use proper bedding. Use a safety approved crib containing a flat, firm mattress and only a tight fitted sheet. If you do not have a crib or pack and play, put your baby to sleep on a clean, thin blanket placed on the floor in a safe area of your home. This is always a better option than placing your baby to sleep on a couch, recliner or other adult sleep surface.
- Never use blankets, soft mattresses or other loose bedding in the crib or sleep area. These could cover your baby’s airway and create an opportunity for your baby to rebreathe the air that was recently exhaled and high in carbon dioxide. This is a potential hazard for infants vulnerable to SIDS as they are unable to respond appropriately. The recommended alternative is a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack or dress your baby in layers. Both options will keep your baby warm and safe.
- Share a room, not a bed. Keep your baby's crib or bassinet in the same room where you sleep. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you but alone in a safe sleep space with no soft objects such as toys, stuffed animals, blankets, pillows and bumper pads. They should not sleep on a couch, chair, bed or other adult sleep surface alone or with anyone else. Placing your baby to sleep on these types of surfaces not only increases the risk of SIDS but other accidental sleep-related deaths.
- To keep your baby warm, use a wearable sleep sack. Keep your baby’s face uncovered at all times and do not use a loose blanket. Follow the product guidelines for safe placement of your baby in wearable infant carriers and wraps to reduce the risk of suffocation. It is important to ensure your baby’s mouth, nose and airway remain open to fresh air while being carried.
- Give your baby a pacifier that is not attached to a string for naps and at night. Pacifier use during naps and nighttime is recommended once breastfeeding is well established. However, pacifier use should be delayed until breastfeeding is established or follow your heathcare providers recommendations.
- Avoid sleep products and positioners that claim to prevent SIDS and other accidental sleep-related deaths. Car seats, swings, Rock n’ Plays, bouncy chairs, slings and boppy pillows should not be used for routine sleep.
- Learning safe sleep practices is important for all caregivers. Help educate all individuals who will care for your baby on how to be knowledgeable and responsible for safe sleep.
- Smoke free environment. Do not smoke or drink during pregnancy and avoid exposing your baby to second hand smoke to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows any signs of trying to roll over. This will usually occur by 4-5 months of age. At this age, a wearable blanket with the infant’s arms out is a great option until they are older than 12 months.
ABCs of Safe Sleep
- Alone. Your baby should always sleep alone.
- Back. Your baby should always sleep on their back.
- Crib. Your baby should sleep in a crib or bassinet without bumper pads, blankets, pillows and toys
Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your baby's sleep environment.