There are many ways parents and guardians can provide a safe sleeping environment for infants, reducing the risk for SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
Recommendations are based on the American Academy of Pediatrics October 2016 policy statement
- Always place your baby on its back to sleep for bed time and nap time.
Infants should be placed on their back for every sleep until they are 12 months old. Side sleeping is not recommended. A common concern is that babies could choke while on their back. Due to airway anatomy, babies clear fluids better on their back than on their stomach.During sleep, infants will sometimes roll onto their stomach. An infant should always be placed on his back for sleep, however if he is able to roll from back to stomach, and stomach to back, it is not necessary to reposition the infant.
- Use a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress.
Infants sleep safest in a safety-approved crib. Infants should never sleep on soft surfaces such as adult mattresses, couches, sofas, waterbeds, quilts, blankets or pillows because plush surfaces increase the risk of suffocation, entrapment or strangulation.Drop side cribs should not be used. For information on crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) web site at www.cpsc.gov, or contact the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772.
- Breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding has many health benefits. Studies show breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfed infants are at a lower risk for SIDS than babies who were never fed breast milk. *If you bring your baby to the adult bed to breastfeed, it is advised to place your baby back in a separate sleep area to reduce the risk of suffocation.
- Room-share with your baby; don’t bed-share.
Room-sharing allows parents and caregivers to be close to the baby, without increasing the risk of sleep-related injury or death. The infant should be placed on his own sleep surface, such as a crib or bassinet. Infants should not sleep in adult beds, on couches or chairs, and should sleep alone. Bed-sharing with adults, siblings or pets is not recommended.*Products which claim to make bed-sharing safer are not recommended.
- Remove all loose bedding, pillows, quilts, stuffed toys and other soft items from the crib.
Infants sleep safest alone in the crib, without soft objects. Removing soft items will reduce the risk of suffocation, entrapment and strangulation. Crib bumpers, or bumper pads, should not be used. If a safety-approved crib is being used, there is no need for crib bumpers. Crib bumpers have been linked to serious injuries and deaths from suffocation. The sale of crib bumpers is prohibited in the city of Chicago.
- Consider offering a pacifier after breastfeeding is established, at bed time and nap time.
Wait until breastfeeding is established before offering a pacifier. Ensure there are no objects attached to the pacifier, such as blankets, stuffed animals or other toys. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, there is no need to put it back in the baby’s mouth.
- Do not smoke while pregnant. Do not smoke around your baby, and don’t let anyone else smoke around your baby.
Both maternal smoking during pregnancy and being exposed to second-hand smoke substantially increase the risk of SIDS. Pregnant women and infants should never be exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Do not drink any alcohol while pregnant, use marijuana or take any illegal drugs while pregnant or after birth.
Consuming alcohol, marijuana or other illegal drugs while pregnant or after giving birth increases the risk of SIDS. A caregiver under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs should never bed-share with an infant.
- Do not let your baby become too warm. Make sure your baby’s head is uncovered.
Always keep your baby’s head uncovered during sleep. Dress your baby appropriately for the environment, and do not over bundle your baby. Consider a wearable blanket sleeper if you are concerned about the baby being cold. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or the baby’s chest feels hot to the touch.
- Obtain regular prenatal care.
Evidence shows infants are at a decreased risk of SIDS when pregnant women obtain regular prenatal care.
- Take your baby for their well-child appointments, including vaccinations.
Infants should receive vaccinations as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Evidence shows vaccinated babies are at a decreased risk of SIDS. For more information about SIDS and vaccines, visit the CDC web site at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/sids.html.
- Do not use products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS, including wedges and positioners.
There is no evidence products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS or prevent SIDS are effective. In fact, some products can actually increase the risk of suffocation, entrapment and strangulation. The cause of SIDS remains unknown, therefore, no product can claim to prevent SIDS. Information about a specific product can be found on the CPSC Web site at www.cpsc.gov.
- Do not use heart or breathing monitors to prevent SIDS.
There is no evidence using such products prevent SIDS. Sometimes doctors prescribe these products for other health conditions. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and always follow safe sleep recommendations.
- Provide supervised “Tummy Time” for your baby while he or she is awake.
Tummy Time is important for strengthening your baby’s neck, shoulder and arm muscles. Tummy Time also prevents flat spots on the back of your baby’s head. Always ensure your baby is awake during Tummy Time and is supervised.