Safe sleep can help protect your baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other dangers.
Why practice safe sleep?
- The highest risk period of SIDS is between one month and four months of age, but can occur up to one year of age.
- The side lying or stomach position increases the risk of the infant rebreathing their own exhaled breath. This could cause the infant to breathe in more carbon dioxide than oxygen. Without a proper response from the infant, this could lead to death.
- Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS threefold and smoking increases the risk of SIDS sixfold.
- Infants are actually more likely to choke or aspirate when lying on their stomachs.
What is a safe sleep environment?
- Place the baby on their back for every sleep.
- Use a firm sleep surface with only a tight fitted sheet. The risk of SIDS increases fivefold with the use of soft bedding.
- No loose bedding, blankets, bumpers, or stuffed animals in the sleeping area. Decorate the room, not the bed. With current crib safety standards, bumper pads are unnecessary.
- Use a wearable blanket or sleeper onesie to keep the baby warm. Blankets are no longer recommended and the use of a sleep sack is preferred over a blanket to decrease the risk of a blanket covering the infant's head or face.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding hats or head coverings when the baby is sleeping.
- Infants should sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed as the parents for at least the first six months. This can decrease the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
- Put baby in the crib for sleeping. The risk of SIDS for an infant sleeping on a couch with someone increases 50 times due to suffocation risk.
- Keep the room at a comfortable temperature and avoid overheating the infant. As a general rule, dress the infant in one additional layer from what an adult is comfortable in.
- If a pacifier is used, it should not have any strings, tethers, or stuffed animals attached.
- Maintain a smoke-free sleeping environment.
Additional ways to decrease the risk of SIDS:
- Breastfeeding is associated with a decrease in the risk of SIDS.
- Twenty percent of SIDS deaths occur while in the care of a childcare provider, so it's important to tell anyone and everyone that takes care of your baby what the latest safe sleep practices are.
- Teach siblings about safe sleep practices.
- Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth. There is not only firsthand and secondhand smoke to worry about, but also thirdhand smoke, which can take at least three washes to remove particles from clothing, hair, and furniture.
- Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.
- After breastfeeding is established, offer a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
- Provide supervised, awake tummy time to promote development.
What does a safe sleep environment look like?