The following actions can reduce the risk for SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death (such as suffocation):1
Always place baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night, to reduce the risk of SIDS. The back sleep position is the safest position for all babies, until they are 1 year old, for all sleep times. Babies who are used to sleeping on their backs, but who are then placed to sleep on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS.
Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib*, covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft items in the sleep area. Never place baby to sleep on soft surfaces, such as on a couch, sofa, waterbed, pillow, quilt, sheepskin, or blanket. These surfaces can be very dangerous for babies. Do not use a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, infant sling or similar products as baby’s regular sleep area. Following these recommendations reduces the risk of SIDS and death or injury from suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation.
Breastfeed your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for mother and baby. Babies who breastfeed, or are fed breastmilk, are at lower risk for SIDS than are babies who were never fed breastmilk. Longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding leads to greater risk reduction.
Share your room with baby.Keep babyin your roomclose to your bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for baby’s first year, but at least for the first 6 months. Room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS and suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else, including siblings or pets.
If you bring your baby into your bed for feeding or comforting, remove all soft items and bedding from the area. When finished, put baby back in a separate sleep area made for infants and close to your bed. Couches and armchairs can be very dangerous for babies, especially if adults fall asleep as they feed, comfort, or bond with baby while on these surfaces. Parents and other caregivers should be mindful of how tired they are when feeding, comforting, or bonding with baby while on these surfaces. There is no evidence for or against devices or products that claim to make bed sharing “safer.”
- Do not put soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding under baby, over baby, or anywhere in baby’s sleep area.
Do not put soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding under baby, over baby, or anywhere in baby’s sleep area. Keeping these items out of baby’s sleep area reduces the risk of SIDS and suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Because evidence does not support using them to prevent injury, crib bumpers are not recommended. Crib bumpers are linked to serious injuries and deaths from suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Keeping these and other soft objects out of baby’s sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.
To reduce the risk of SIDS, women should:
- Get regular prenatal care during pregnancy, AND
- Not smoke, drink alcohol, use marijuana, 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 or in your baby’s environment.
Think about giving your baby a pacifier for naps and nighttime sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS. Do not attach the pacifier to anything—like a string, clothing, stuffed toy, or blanket—that carries a risk for suffocation, choking, or strangulation. Wait until baby is breastfeeding well before offering a pacifier. Or, if you are not breastfeeding, offer the pacifier as soon as you want. Don’t force the baby to use it. If the pacifier falls out of baby’s mouth during sleep, there is no need to put the pacifier back in. Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS for all babies, including breastfed babies.
Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep. Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket designed to keep him or her warm without using blankets in the sleep area. Dress baby appropriately for the environment, and do not over-bundle the baby. Parents and caregivers should watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or the baby’s chest feeling hot to the touch. Keep the baby’s face and head uncovered during sleep.
Follow health care provider guidance on your baby’s vaccines and regular health checkups. Vaccines not only protect baby’s health, but research shows that vaccinated babies are also at lower risk for SIDS.
Avoid products that go against safe sleep recommendations, especially those that claim to reduce the risk of or prevent SIDS. There is currently no known way to prevent SIDS. Evidence does not support the safety or effectiveness of wedges, positioners, or other products that claim to keep infants in a specific position or to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, or reflux. In fact, many of these products are associated with injury and death, especially when used in baby’s sleep area.
Do not use heart or breathing monitors in the home to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using these monitors for other health conditions, talk with your baby’s health care provider, and always follow safe sleep recommendations.
Give your baby plenty of tummy time when he or she is awake and when someone is watching. Supervised Tummy Time helps your baby’s neck, shoulder, and arm muscles get stronger. It also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s head. Limiting the time in car seats, once the baby is out of the car, and changing the direction the infant lays in the sleep area from week to week can also help to prevent flat spots on the back of baby’s head.
* A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. For information on crib safety, contact the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or
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.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2016). SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics, 138, e20162938. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from