As a caregiver, one of the most important decisions you will make is where your baby will sleep.

What you can improve

Since 1992, deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have declined dramatically, but sleep-related deaths from other causes, including suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have increased. Each year, about 4,000 infants die unexpectedly during sleep time, from SIDS, accidental suffocation or unknown causes. While SIDS is still the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age, there are things new parents and caregivers can do to reduce the risk of SIDS.

SIDS is sometimes called “crib death” or “cot death” because it is associated with the timeframe 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 his or her own exhaled breath, leading to carbon dioxide buildup and low oxygen levels, and interfere with body heat dissipation, leading to overheating. 

Tips to stay ahead

You can reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death in the following ways:

  1. Be firm. The single most effective action that parents can take to lower a baby’s risk of SIDS is to place the baby to sleep on his or her back for naps and at night, and always use a firm sleep surface.

  2. Stay close. Room sharing is safer than bed sharing! The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib near your bed.

  3. Go minimal. Do not use pillows, blankets or crib bumpers anywhere in your baby’s sleep area.

  4. Pare down. Keep soft objects out of your baby’s sleep area.

  5. Get comfy. Dress your baby in a wearable blanket.

  6. Keep baby flat. Car seats, positioners, wedges and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.

Always remember: Safe sleep saves lives.