How can I reduce the risk of SIDS?

Mother checking on her baby in crib. Text on top: 13 ways to help your baby sleep safely.Research shows that there are several ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Visit the Safe to Sleep® website for more information about reducing the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

  • 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. 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. Preemies (infants born preterm) should be placed on their backs to sleep as soon as possible after birth.
  • Use a Firm and Flat 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 lower risk.

    If you bring baby into your bed for feeding, put him or her back in a separate sleep area when finished. This sleep area should be made for infants, like a crib or bassinet, and close to your bed. If you fall asleep while feeding or comforting baby in an adult bed, place him or her back in a separate sleep area as soon as you wake up.  Evidence shows that the longer a parent and an infant bed share, the higher the risk for sleep-related causes of infant death, such as suffocation. Breastfeeding information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm.
  • Share Your Room With Baby. Keep Baby in Your Room Close 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. 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. Having a separate safe sleep surface for the baby reduces the risk of SIDS and the chance of suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment. 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, like a crib or bassinet, and close to your bed. Couches and armchairs can also be very dangerous for babies, 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 during these times. 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. 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
    • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using marijuana or 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.
  • 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 the need for loose blankets in the sleep area. Dress baby appropriately for the environment, and do not overbundle. 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 Guidance from Your Health Care Provider on Your Baby's Vaccines and Regular Health Checkups. Vaccines not only protect baby's health, but research shows that vaccinated babies are at lower risk for SIDS.
  • Avoid Products That Go Against Safe Sleep Recommendations, Especially Those That Claim To Prevent or Reduce the Risk For 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 Someone Is Watching. Supervised Tummy Time helps strengthen your baby's neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. It also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby's head.  Limiting the time spent 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 also can help to prevent these flat spots.

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.

* 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 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/.

Citations

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, October). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics, Nov;138(5). pii: e20162938. Epub 2016 Oct 24. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162938.long External Web Site Policy.
  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

How many infants die from SIDS or are at risk for SIDS?

What causes SIDS?

How can I reduce the risk of SIDS?

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