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Ways To Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death

A baby is on her back in a bassinet, which is next to her mother's bed. Her mother lies in her own bed and rests her hand on the side of the baby's bassinet. 

Research shows that there are several ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death:

The actions listed here and in Safe to Sleep® materials and publications are based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on SIDS. You can read the latest Policy Statement from the AAP Task Force on SIDS External Web Site Policy.

* Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website for more information about crib safety: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/cribs/.

Always Place Baby on His or Her Back To Sleep, for Naps and at Night, To Reduce the Risk of SIDS

Mother laying baby down on his back in a crib.The back sleep position is the safest position for all babies, until they are 1 year old . Babies who are used to sleeping on their backs, but who are then placed to sleep on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS.

If baby rolls over on his or her own from back to stomach or stomach to back, there is no need to reposition the baby. Starting sleep on the back is most important for reducing SIDS risk.

Preemies (infants born preterm) should be placed on their backs to sleep as soon as possible after birth.

Can my baby choke if placed on the back to sleep?

The short answer is no—babies are not more likely to choke when sleeping on their backs.

Learn more about why choking risk might actually be lower when sleeping on the back.

Use a Firm and Flat Sleep Surface, Such as a Mattress in a Safety-Approved Crib*, Covered by a Fitted Sheet With No Other Bedding or Soft Items in the Sleep Area

A father lays his baby down on his back in a crib, which shows a sleep safe environment free of toys, blankets, pillows, and crib bumpers.Never place baby to sleep on soft surfaces, such as on a couch, sofa, waterbed, pillow, quilt, sheepskin, or blanket. These surfaces can be very dangerous for babies. Do not use a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, infant sling or similar products as baby's regular sleep area. Following these recommendations reduces the risk of SIDS and death or injury from suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation.

*A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. For information on crib safety, contact the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or http://www.cpsc.gov.

Why shouldn't I use crib bumpers in my 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. Learn more about why keeping crib bumpers out of baby's sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.

Breastfeed Your Baby To Reduce the Risk of SIDS

Mother breastfeeding child.Breastfeeding has many health benefits for mother and baby. Babies who breastfeed, or are fed breastmilk, are at lower risk for SIDS than are babies who were never fed breastmilk. Longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding leads to lower risk.

If you bring baby into your bed for feeding, put him or her back in a separate sleep area when finished. This sleep area should be made for infants, like a crib or bassinet, and close to your bed. If you fall asleep while feeding or comforting baby in an adult bed, place him or her back in a separate sleep area as soon as you wake up.  Evidence shows that the longer a parent and an infant bed share, the higher the risk for sleep-related causes of infant death, such as suffocation. Breastfeeding information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm.

What if I fall asleep while feeding my baby?

It is less dangerous to fall asleep with an infant in an adult bed than on a sofa or armchair. The latest safe sleep recommendations include precautions in case you fall asleep while feeding your baby.

Share Your Room With Baby. Keep Baby in Your Room Close to Your Bed, But on a Separate Surface Designed for Infants, Ideally for Baby's First Year, But at Least for the First 6 Months

A baby sleeps on her back in a bassinet, which is next to her mother's bed. Her mother lies in her own bed and rests her hand on the side of the baby's bassinet.Room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else, including siblings or pets. Having a separate safe sleep surface for the baby reduces the risk of SIDS and the chance of suffocation, strangulation and entrapment.

If you bring your baby into your bed for feeding or comforting, remove all soft items and bedding from the area. When finished, put baby back in a separate sleep area made for infants, like a crib or bassinet, and close to your bed.

Couches and armchairs can also be very dangerous for babies, if adults fall asleep as they feed, comfort, or bond with baby while on these surfaces. Parents and other caregivers should be mindful of how tired they are during these times.

There is no evidence for or against devices or products that claim to make bed sharing "safer."

Can I practice skin-to-skin care as soon as my baby is born?

Yes, when mom is stable, awake, and able to respond to her baby. Learn more about recommendations on skin-to-skin care after birth.

Do Not Put Soft Objects, Toys, Crib Bumpers, or Loose Bedding Under Baby, Over Baby, or Anywhere in Baby's Sleep Area

Keeping these items out of baby's sleep area reduces the risk of SIDS and suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Because evidence does not support using them to prevent injury, crib bumpers are not recommended. Crib bumpers are linked to serious injuries and deaths from suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Keeping these and other soft objects out of baby's sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.

To Reduce the Risk of SIDS, Women Should:

  • Get regular prenatal care during pregnancy
  • Avoid smoking , drinking alcohol, and using marijuana or illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born.
More information about smoking and SIDS risk is provided below.

Think About Giving Your Baby a Pacifier for Naps and Nighttime Sleep to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

A baby lies on his back with a pacifier in his mouth.Do not attach the pacifier to anything—like a string, clothing, stuffed toy, or blanket—that carries a risk for suffocation, choking, or strangulation.

Wait until baby is breastfeeding well before offering a pacifier. Or, if you are not breastfeeding, offer the pacifier as soon as you want. Don't force the baby to use it.

If the pacifier falls out of baby's mouth during sleep, there is no need to put the pacifier back in.

Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS for all babies, including breastfed babies.  

Do Not Let Your Baby Get Too Hot During Sleep

Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket designed to keep him or her warm without the need for loose blankets in the sleep area.

Dress baby appropriately for the environment, and do not overbundle . Parents and caregivers should watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or the baby's chest feeling hot to the touch.

Keep the baby's face and head uncovered during sleep.

Can I swaddle my baby to reduce the risk of SIDS?

There is no evidence that swaddling reduces SIDS risk. In fact, swaddling can increase the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Learn more about why swaddling is not recommended as a way to reduce SIDS risk and how you can swaddle safely.

Follow Health Care Provider Guidance on Your Baby's Vaccines and Regular Health Checkups

A baby sitting on an examination table while a male physician examines him. A nurse stands nearby with a notepad.Vaccines not only protect baby's health, but research shows that vaccinated babies are at lower risk for SIDS.

Avoid Products That Go Against Safe Sleep Recommendations, Especially Those That Claim To Prevent or Reduce the Risk For SIDS

There is currently no known way to prevent SIDS.

Evidence does not support the safety or effectiveness of wedges, positioners, or other products that claim to keep infants in a specific position or to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, or reflux. In fact, many of these products are associated with injury and death, especially when used in baby's sleep area.

Do Not Use Heart or Breathing Monitors in the Home to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

If you have questions about using these monitors for other health conditions, talk with your baby's health care provider, and always follow safe sleep recommendations.

Give Your Baby Plenty of Tummy Time When He or She Is Awake and Someone Is Watching

Father and baby enjoy Tummy TimeSupervised Tummy Time helps strengthen your baby's neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. It also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby's head.

Limiting the time spent in car seats, once the baby is out of the car, and changing the direction the infant lays in the sleep area from week to week also can help to prevent these flat spots.

Illustration of baby on back in crib

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