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Safe Sleep for Infants

New Infant Safe Sleep Recommendations

  • Note: These recommendations are for healthy babies up to 1 year of age. A very small number of babies with certain medical conditions may need to be placed to sleep on their stomachs. Your baby’s doctor can tell you what is best for your baby.

Many infants are injured or die during sleep from unsafe sleep environments. Some of these deaths are from entrapment, suffocation, and strangulation. Some infants die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, there are ways for parents to keep their sleeping baby safe.

Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how parents can create a safe sleep environment for their babies. This information should also be shared with anyone who cares for babies, including grandparents, family, friends, babysitters, and child care centers.

  • CDC supports new recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). These new recommendations aim to reduce the risk of infant death from SIDS as well as death from known sleep-related causes.

Reducing the Risk

Always place babies to sleep on their backs.

    • Babies up to 1 year of age who are placed to sleep on their stomachs or sides are at higher risk for SIDS than babies who are placed on their backs to sleep.  Place babies on their backs to sleep during naps and at night. However, if your baby has rolled from his back to his side or stomach on his own, he can be left in that position if he is already able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy.
    • If your baby falls asleep in a car safety seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or infant sling place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet  as soon as possible.
    • Never put your baby to sleep on a chair, sofa, water bed, cushion, sheepskin or other soft surface. The crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard should meet current safety standards.   Check to make sure the product has not been recalled. Do not use a crib that is broken or missing parts, or has drop-side rails. Cover the mattress that comes with the product with a fitted sheet. Do not put blankets or pillows between the mattress and the fitted sheet.

Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.

    • Don't use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, sleep postioner, or pillow-like bumpers in your baby’s sleep area. Keep all items away from the baby’s face that could cause your baby to suffocate.  Note: Research has not shown us when it’s 100% safe to have these objects in the crib; however, most experts agree that after 12 months of age these objects pose little risk to healthy babies.

Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not the same bed.

    • Keep the crib or bassinet within an arm’s reach of your bed. You can easily watch or breastfeed your baby by having your baby nearby. Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents (co-sleeping) are at risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation. Parents can roll onto babies during sleep or babies can get tangled in the sheets or blankets. Avoid letting your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. Your baby may be too hot if he/she is sweating or if her chest feels hot. If you are worried that your baby is cold, infant sleep clothing designed to keep babies warm without the risk of covering their heads can be used.

What does a safe sleep environment look like?

To learn more about safe sleep environment and reducing the risk of sleep injury and SIDS, check out the below example from National Institute of Child Health Development (NICHD) publication What does a safe sleep environment look like?

NICHD Sleep Guide

Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke.  

    • If you smoke, try to quit. However, until you can quit, keep your car and home smoke-free. Don’t smoke inside your home or car and don’t smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.

Will my baby develop flat spots on his or her head from back sleeping?

    • For the most part, flat spots on a baby’s head go away a few months after the baby learns to sit up. There are other ways to reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head, such as providing "tummy time" when your baby is awake and someone is watching.

Tummy Time