Skip Navigation
  Print Page

How can I reduce the risk of SIDS?

Skip sharing on social media links
Share this:

The following actions can reduce the risk for SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death (such as suffocation):1

  • Always place infants on their backs to sleep, for naps and at night, to reduce the risk of SIDS. The back sleep position is always the safest position for all infants, including preterm babies. Keep in mind that every sleep time counts.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet, to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Firm sleep surfaces can include mattresses in safety-approved* cribs, bassinets, and portable play areas. Do not use a car seat, carrier, swing, or similar product as the baby's everyday sleep area. Never place babies to sleep on soft surfaces, such as on a couch or sofa, pillows, quilts, sheepskins, or blankets.
  • Room sharing—keeping the baby's sleep area in the same room where you or others sleep—reduces the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else. If you bring your baby into your bed to feed, make sure to put him or her back in the separate sleep area, such as a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable play area, in your room next to where you sleep when you are finished.
  • Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Don't use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, or crib bumpers anywhere in your 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. Keeping them out of baby's sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.
  • To reduce the risk of SIDS, women should:
    • Get regular health care during pregnancy (prenatal care), and
    • Not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born.
  • To reduce the risk of SIDS, do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.
  • Breastfeed your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for mother and infant.2 If you bring your baby into your bed to breastfeed, make sure to put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a safety-approved* crib, bassinet, or portable play area, in your room next to where you sleep when you are finished.
  • Give your baby a dry pacifier that is not attached to a string for naps and at night to reduce the risk of SIDS. But don't force the baby to use it. If the pacifier falls out of the baby's mouth during sleep, there is no need to put the pacifier back in. Wait until the baby is used to breastfeeding before trying a pacifier.
  • Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep. Dress your child in no more than one layer of clothing more than an adult would wear to be comfortable. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
  • Follow health care provider guidance on your baby's vaccines and regular health checkups.
  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. These wedges, positioners, and other products have not been tested for safety or effectiveness.
  • Do not use home heart or breathing monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using monitors for other health conditions, talk with your child's health care provider. Keep in mind that monitors for health conditions are different from baby monitors that allow caregivers to hear and/or see an infant from another room. These baby monitors do not reduce or detect SIDS.
  • Give your infant plenty of tummy time when he or she is awake and when someone is watching. Supervised tummy time helps the baby's neck, shoulder, and arm muscles get stronger. It also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby's head. Holding the baby upright and limiting time in carriers and bouncers can also help prevent flat spots on the back of the baby's head.

* For information on crib safety guidelines, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Kids-and-Babies/Cribs/.

These recommendations form the basis for the safe sleep messages explained in the Safe to Sleep® campaign (formerly the Back to Sleep campaign).

Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows the ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 128, 1030-1039. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-2284.full.pdf+html External Web Site Policy (PDF - 336 KB) [top]
  2. Hauck, F. R., Thompson, J. M., Tanabe, K. O., Moon, R. Y., & Vennemann, M. M. (2011). Breastfeeding and reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 128, 103-110. Retrieved June 14, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21669892 [top]

Last Updated Date: 08/22/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 04/12/2013
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology