Each year, about 4,000 infants die unexpectedly during sleep time from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation or unknown causes. SIDS remains the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age, and overheating can be a contributing factor.

SIDS is sometimes called “crib death” or “cot death” because it is associated with the time frame when the baby is sleeping. Cribs themselves don’t cause SIDS, but the baby’s sleep environment can influence sleep-related causes of death. Research shows that the back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS. An unsafe sleeping position could cause upper airway obstruction, increase the probability that the baby re-breathes their own exhaled breath, leading to carbon dioxide buildup and low oxygen levels and overheating. 

A baby’s body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s because they have less developed abilities to regulate their internal temperature. Although SIDS is not preventable, there are steps parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of overheating, SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

Do’s:

  • Place your baby to sleep on their back, alone in a crib and on a firm crib mattress.
  • Get a room thermometer. Temperature should be kept between 68-72 degrees F.
  • Dress your baby in loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. For sleep, dress them in a light, wearable blanket.
  • Place a fan in the room.
  • Keep your baby out of direct sunlight.
  • Attach a stroller accessory, such as a parasol, to shade your baby.
  • Monitor your baby’s physical symptoms by feeling their neck, back and chest.

Don’ts:

  • Place your baby to sleep on an adult bed, couch or other soft surface.
  • Use pillows, blankets or crib bumpers anywhere in your baby’s sleep area.
  • Bed share. Instead, room share by keeping your baby’s sleep area separate from your sleep area in the same room you are sleeping.
  • Drape a thin blanket over the stroller. This creates a greenhouse effect, raising temperature in the stroller and reducing air circulation.