Sleep Safety and SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that happens when the baby is sleeping or napping. The best way to lower the chance of SIDS is to place healthy infants on their backs to sleep. This is because recent studies have shown an increase in SIDS in infants who are positioned on their stomach to sleep.

Additional tips to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Place your baby on a firm mattress, in a safety-approved crib. No pillow top or water mattresses or soft surfaces.
  • Pillows, comforters or sheepskins and stuffed toys should be kept out of the crib as they can cover your infant's head and airway.
  • Keep your baby's head and face uncovered during sleep. Use sleep clothing with no other covering over the baby. If you do use a blanket, be sure the infant's feet are at the bottom of the crib, the blanket is no higher than the baby's chest, and the blanket is tucked around the mattress.
  • Do not smoke before or after the birth of your baby. Do not let others smoke around the baby.
  • Don't let your baby become overheated during sleep. Keep the temperature of the baby's room so it feels comfortable for an adult. Dress your baby in as much or as little clothing as you would wear.
  • Devices designed to maintain sleep position or to reduce the risk of re-breathing are not recommended since many have not been tested sufficiently for safety.
  • This "back sleeping" recommendation is for healthy infants. Some infants with certain medical conditions or malformations may need to be placed on their stomachs to sleep.
  • Babies should be allowed supervised "tummy time" during awake periods to promote shoulder and muscle development and avoid flat spots on the back of the head.
  • Bed sharing or co-sleeping with your infant may be dangerous. Parents whom bed share with their infants should not smoke or use drugs or alcohol. Some parents have rolled over onto the baby and smothered it. As an alternative, parents might consider placing the crib near the bed to promote ease of breastfeeding and contact.
  • Share all of these important tips with babysitters, grandparents and other caregivers.