Safe sleep practices can protect babies from sleep-related causes of infant death.
There have been dramatic improvements in reducing infant deaths during sleep since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place babies on their back for sleep. However, since the early 2000s, declines have slowed. To encourage safety, healthcare providers provide counsel on safe sleep practices and during pregnancy and baby care visits.
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is the death of an infant under the age of one that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. SUID cases include deaths without a clear cause, such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and those from a known cause, such as suffocation. Common causes of SUID include health conditions, injuries, and unsafe sleep environments. SIDS, which is a type of SUID, is the death of an infant under the age of one that cannot be explained after a full investigation.
Recommended safe sleep practices include:
- Eliminating hazards, such as keeping blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of the sleep area.
- Room sharing but not bed sharing.
These practices can help lower the risk of sleep-related infant deaths due to accidental suffocation, entrapment, or strangulation. See more key recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the ABC's of Safe Sleep below.
The ABCs of safe sleep
- Put baby to sleep alone in their own crib or bassinet.
- Don't put baby to bed with other children or adults. They can accidentally suffocate a baby by lying too close to the baby's mouth or nose or rolling onto them while asleep.
- Keep all soft items away from baby when sleeping in crib or bassinet. Babies should not sleep with stuffed animals, pillows or blankets - soft items could accidentally fall over a baby's face and suffocate them.
- A blanket sleeper or sleep sack will keep baby comfortable. Don't use heavy blankets or quilts that may overheat the baby and pose a suffocation risk.
- Put babies to sleep on their backs. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of infant sleep related deaths.
- Teach other mothers, grandmothers, and those who care for your baby that "back to sleep" is safest for babies.
- "Back to sleep" will not increase a baby's risk of choking according to doctors.
- Babies should sleep in a crib, bassinet, or portable crib that meet CPSP safety standards.
- Cribs or other safety-approved sleep surfaces should include a firm, tight-fitting mattress and sheet .
- Safety-approved sleep surfaces should be free of blankets, bumpers, pillows, stuffed animals, or other soft items that could pose suffocation risk.
- Always return your baby to their crib after nursing. To make breastfeeding easier, keep a crib or bassinet next to your bed.
NOTE: Be sure to discuss these safety tips with all your infant's caregivers, including babysitters, child care providers, and grandparents.
Image courtesy of the Safe to Sleep® campaign
For educational purposes only; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, http://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov; Safe to Sleep® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.