Infant Safe Sleep Fall 2019

Fall means cooler weather and is a good time to remind infant caregivers of safe sleep recommendations and the prohibition of use of blankets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following guidance to promote safe sleep. Take these steps to help babies sleep safely and reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

There are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US babies each year. CDC supports the 2016 recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS. See How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained to learn more about these recommendations and other actions.

Parents and caregivers can help create a safe sleep area for babies by taking the following steps:
• Always place your baby on his back for all sleep times—naps and at night. Some parents may be concerned that a baby who sleeps on his back will choke if he spits up during sleep. However, baby’s anatomy and gag reflex will prevent him from choking while sleeping on his back. A baby who sleeps on his back is much less likely to die of SIDS than a baby who sleeps on his side or stomach. 

• Use a firm, flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered only by a fitted sheet. Some parents might feel they should place their baby on a soft surface to help him to be more comfortable while sleeping. However, soft surfaces can increase the risk of sleep-related death. A firm sleep surface helps reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.

• Keep your baby’s sleep area (for example, a crib or bassinet) in the same room where you sleep until your baby is at least 6 months old, or ideally, until your baby is one year old. Some parents may feel they should share their bed with their baby to help them feel more connected. However, accidental suffocation or strangulation can happen when a baby is sleeping in an adult bed or other unsafe sleep surfaces. Sharing a room with your baby is much safer than bed sharing and may decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. Placing the crib close to your bed so that the baby is within view and reach can also help make it easier to feed, comfort, and check your baby.

• Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of your baby’s sleep area. Additionally, do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Some parents may feel they should add sheets or blankets to their baby’s crib to help keep their baby warm and comfortable while sleeping. However, sheets, comforters, and blankets can increase the risk of suffocation or overheat your baby. If you’re worried about your baby getting cold during sleep, you can dress him in sleep clothing, like a wearable blanket.

View a safe sleep environment at What does a safe sleep environment look like? from Safe to Sleep.®
Safe to Sleep® campaign is to educate parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Please visit to order free educational materials developed by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Adapted from Reviewed and reaffirmed 4-2019