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Safe Sleep for Your Baby

Children play on a playground in a park.


Adults talk with each other around a picnic table in the park.

Beth: Seriously?

Kevon: What?  Congratulations, man!

Beth: Is it okay to tell everyone?

Thomas: Yeah.  We were just waiting for --

Beth: Hey, everyone!  Lori and Thomas are pregnant!



Kevon: That's my wife.  Subtle.

Beth: How far along are you?

Lori: I'm about four months.

Winona: And we're very excited.

Thomas: And terrified.

Beth: Well, that's normal.  It's a big change, and there's a lot to get ready for.

Lori: It's not just the getting ready, it's...

Beth: What?

Lori: I feel silly.

Thomas: She's worried about what happened to the Murphys up the street last year.  I mean, I've got to be honest, we're both scared.  This SIDS thing --

Lori: It's terrifying.

Winona: SIDS?

Beth: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Winona: Oh.  This is what we used to call "crib death."

Lori: I don't even like saying it out loud, even though it's kind of a nonsense name.  I mean, I know cribs don't cause SIDS. 

Winona: This is all that stuff about not letting the baby sleep on its stomach and so on, right?

Kevon: Right, right.  Babies need to sleep on their backs.

Winona: I'm sure they know what they're talking about because, if you remember, you, young lady, spent many an hour sleeping on my stomach. 

Lori: I know, mom. 

Beth: Yeah, but pregnant women used to smoke and drink a lot more back then --

Kevon: But, baby, that doesn't make it right.  I mean, we did a lot of things back then that now we know is wrong.

Thomas: But if babies sleeping on their back is the right idea, then why did I hear the Lawrences telling their babysitter that it was okay for their baby to be on his stomach sometimes?

Adults speak with Danielle, sitting on the ground with her husband and baby on a picnic blanket. Beth: They did?  Maybe you heard wrong.  Hey, Danielle?

Danielle: Hey, what's up?

Winona: Thomas said he heard you tell your sitter something about the baby being okay on her stomach and he was thinking maybe we're wrong about this back thing?

Danielle: Oh, no, no, no, no, no.  My sitter -- she was so totally worried about making sure that she sleeps on her back, she was trying to keep her on her back all the time, even when she was awake.  I was just trying to let her know she didn't have to worry about that.

Thomas: So, it's okay for her to be on her stomach when she's awake?

Nurse Rhonda walks up and sits next to Danielle and her family.

Nurse Rhonda: It's fine.

Danielle: Oh hey, Rhonda. 

Oscar: She's the nurse.  She knows.

Nurse Rhonda: Babies need to sleep on their backs, but they need some "tummy time" too, when they're awake. 

A baby plays with a toy while lying on his stomach.


Nurse Rhonda: Helps their muscles develop and prevents the chance of flat spots developing on their heads.


In the park around the picnic table.

 Woman: Rhonda, it's okay if baby sleeps on their tummy sometimes, right, like for quick naps and stuff?

Nurse Rhonda: There's strong evidence that babies are at increased risk for SIDS if they spend even a small amount of sleep time on their stomachs. 

A young woman places a sleeping baby in a crib on its back.


Nurse Rhonda: The only safe sleeping position is on their backs.


In the park around the picnic table.

Nurse Rhonda: How are you feeling, Lori?

Lori: I'm great!  I've been working on all the things you suggested the last time you came by.

Oscar: Wait, Rhonda makes house calls?

Lori: She gave me a lot of great suggestions on how to get the house ready for the baby.  I've got to say, though, Rhonda, I've been having some trouble convincing my mom here of some of that stuff you were suggesting.

Nurse Rhonda: What stuff?

Thomas: Not wrapping the baby in blankets during sleep time.

Winona: It's part of our culture to wrap babies in blankets.  

Nurse Rhonda: Unfortunately, we've learned that all those blankets can be dangerous.

Latina Woman: Yeah, and it's not just blankets.  It's pillows, it's toys, it's anything soft, right?

Nurse Rhonda: That's right.  A lot of things that feel comfy and cozy can actually be dangerous.  They increase the risk for SIDS and could even suffocate your baby.

A woman removed stuffed toys and blankets from a crib. She places a baby in the crib on its back.


Nurse Rhonda: So pull all that stuff out of the crib during sleep time.  And to keep loose blankets from being over or under your baby, you could use blanket sleepers.  Baby should sleep on a safety-approved mattress with a fitted sheet, that's it.


In the park around the picnic table.

White Woman: Rhonda, can we get your opinion on another issue?

Nurse Rhonda: Are you about to get me in trouble with someone?


White Woman: Well, we'll just say we've been having what I call a disagreement lately about how warm we should keep our son at night.  Hey, we've got the expert here.  We should at least ask.

Nurse Rhonda: I can understand your concern, worrying about the baby getting too cold.

White Man: See?

Nurse Rhonda: But --

White Woman: Ah! "But!"

Nurse Rhonda: But you have to take care not to overdress your baby during sleep time. 

A man adjusts the temperature on a home thermostat.  Then he removes a blanket from on top of a baby in a basinet and picks up the baby and places him back in the basinet on his back.


Nurse Rhonda: Raising the thermostat too high or bundling him can actually overheat him, which increases the risk for SIDS.  So, if the room feels comfortable to you, it's comfortable for your baby wearing light sleep clothing.  That's the safest way to go.


In the park around the picnic table.

White Man: Okay, you win.  But as long as we're settling disagreements, maybe there's one more thing you can do for us.  We're thinking about having a second child.  I understand it's got to be a rule: no more smoking around the baby.  I get that.

White Woman: Well, do you get that we're not even thinking about having a second child until you quit smoking, finally?

White Man: Look, I told you, I'm going to quit for good.

A man pulls a package of cigarettes from his pocket and moves to put one in his mouth.  He notices a baby's highchair in front of him, looks at the cigarette, and then throws it in a trash can.


Oscar: Yo, man.  When she's pregnant, that baby breathes what she breathes.

Nurse Rhonda: So no smoking around baby, period. 

White Man: Okay, okay, I'll stop smoking.  I promise.


In the park around the picnic table.

Woman: Well, since we're worried about this SIDS stuff, what about these babies that come home from the hospital with breathing monitors and heart monitors?  That's okay, right?

Nurse Rhonda: Well, they're for a specific health purpose, but we don't have any data showing that they decrease the risk for SIDS. What we do know is they can make parents feel safer when they're not.

A person lifts up the mattress of a crib to remove a monitor from underneath.


Nurse Rhonda: Don't rely on electronic products to keep your baby safe during sleep.


In the park around the picnic table.

Nurse Rhonda: We can't get lulled into thinking that electronic gizmos can take the place of caring parents, you know?

Latina Woman: Yeah, that makes sense.  But what about those baby "sleep positioners?"  That seems like a good idea to keep your baby from flipping over. 

Nurse Rhonda: There are a lot of products out there that claim to reduce the risk for SIDS…

A woman remove a baby from a crib, then removes a safety device from the drib and places the baby back in the crib on its back.


Nurse Rhonda: …but most haven't been safety-tested, and they actually might increase the risk for suffocation.  So, avoid commercial products that claim to reduce the risk for SIDS. 


In the park around the picnic table.

Nurse Rhonda: The simplest rule is: nothing else in the crib.

African American Woman: I wish you'd been around to tell my mother that.  She had all three of us sleeping in the same crib.  And whoever the littlest one was, was the one who got to sleep in her bed!

Latina Woman: But wait, that's not safe either, right?

African American Woman: But it's the way everybody did it.  I mean, you either slept in the same bed with your brothers or your sisters or your parents.

Nurse Rhonda: That's okay for older children, but for infants it's not safe.  If the baby is sleeping in the bed with someone else, it increases the risk for SIDS or accidental suffocation. 

A woman places a baby with a pacifier in its mouth in a basinet beside a bed.  She then sits on the bed and starts reading a book.  After a few second she looks over at the baby.


Nurse Rhonda: Now, they can sleep in the same room with someone else beside the bed, just not in the bed -- nothing else in the sleep area.

Oscar: So, should you give your baby a pacifier before they go to sleep?


In the park around the picnic table.

Nurse Rhonda: There is that tiny exception, fair enough. 

A woman places a baby with a pacifier in its mouth in a crib on its back.


Nurse Rhonda: Yes, it's a good idea to give the baby a clean, dry pacifier. 


In the park around the picnic table.

Nurse Rhonda: The important thing to remember is never coerce or force the baby to take the pacifier.  And if it pops out during sleep, that's it.  Leave it out.  Don't try to pop it back in. 

Someone gently places the tip of a pacifier on the baby's lips while the baby lies on its back in the crib.

Nurse Rhonda: And if you're breastfeeding, you should wait until your baby is used to nursing before you even introduce a pacifier.

A pregnant woman power walks on a trail through the woods.


Nurse Rhonda: But some of the important ways to reduce the chance of SIDS occurring begin with taking care of yourself while pregnant.  Never smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after childbirth. 


A pregnant woman has her blood pressure taken by a nurse in a medical office.


Nurse Rhonda: Get regular prenatal care, and once your baby's born…

A woman holds an infant while a doctor gives the infant a shot.


Nurse Rhonda: …follow your doctor's guidance on vaccines and well baby checkups. 

A woman breastfeeds an infant while sitting in a chair.


Nurse Rhonda: Breastfeeding your baby is recommended too because it can also help reduce the risk of SIDS.


In the park around the picnic table. Adults get up from the table and walk through the playground.  Some hold children in their arms.

Parent: Hey, it's birthday time!


Woman: Wait up!


Nurse Rhonda: SIDS affects infants less than a year old with ages up to four months being particularly vulnerable.  But the simple steps we've been talking about here, today, drastically reduce the incidence of SIDS. 


Prenatal Care

A pregnant woman power walks on a trail through the woods.

A pregnant woman has her blood pressure taken by a nurse in a medical office.


Nurse Rhonda: Just remember: take care of yourself.  Go to all prenatal care checkups scheduled by your doctor. 


Well-baby care

A woman holds an infant while a doctor places a bandage on the infant's leg.

Nurse Rhonda: After baby's born, follow your doctor's advice on well baby vaccines and checkups. 



A woman breastfeeds an infant while sitting in a chair.

No drugs
No alcohol
No smoking

A woman breastfeeds an infant while sitting in a chair.

Nurse Rhonda: Breastfeed your baby, but absolutely no smoking, alcohol, or illegal drug use while pregnant or after birth. 


Nothing in the crib

A woman removes toys and blankets from a crib.

Nurse Rhonda: Remove all play items and soft objects from the crib at sleep time, and that includes bumper pads. 


Firm crib mattress

A woman places a baby in a crib on his back.

Nurse Rhonda: Place baby on a firm, safety-approved crib mattress. 


Don't overdress baby

A woman places a baby in a basinet.

Don't set temperature too high

A man changes the thermostat.

Nurse Rhonda: Avoid overdressing your baby or setting the thermostat too high. 


Keep sleep area separate

A woman places a baby with a pacifier in its mouth in a basinet next to a bed.

Nurse Rhonda: Keep baby's sleep area close to but separate from where you sleep. 


Don't rely on products

Someone removes a monitor from underneath a mattress in a crib

Nurse Rhonda: Don't put your trust in products marketed to protect against SIDS or rely on heart or breathing monitors. 


Can use a clean pacifier

A baby lies on her back in a crib with a pacifier in her mouth.

Nurse Rhonda: You can use a clean pacifier for sleep time, and if breast feeding, wait until baby is used to nursing before introducing the pacifier.

A man throws a package of cigarettes in a garbage can.

No Smoking

Nurse Rhonda: No smoking around baby. 


Give baby supervised tummy time

A baby plays with a toy while lying on his stomach.

Nurse Rhonda: Make sure baby gets some tummy time when awake and you're watching to avoid developing flat spots on the head and to support physical development. 


ALWAYS place baby on back

A woman places a baby in a crib on its back.

Nurse Rhonda: And, when it comes to sleeping, always, always, always place baby on his or her back.

In the park, adults clap while a young child blows out candles on a birthday cake.


Nurse Rhonda: And get some rest, because you're going to need it!



A production of:



Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of
Child Health and
Human Development


Office of Research Services
Events Management Branch
Multimedia Team

In associations with:

Rocket Media Group

A special thanks to all participants who worked to make this video possible.

 For more information please contact:


Safe to Sleep Logo
1-800-505-CRIB (2742)



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