Learn how to put your baby to bed safely

Did you know SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age? SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome, but can also be called crib death. SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old and can happen without warning to a baby who seems healthy.

While we don’t know what causes SIDS, we do know that some things increase the risk of SIDS.

SIDS is more likely in a baby who:

  • Sleeps on his tummy or on his side.
  • Sleeps on pillows, soft surfaces or soft bedding.
  • Wears too many clothes to sleep or sleeps in a room that is too hot. These things can cause your baby to overheat.
  • Shares a bed with you. This is called bed-sharing. It’s when you and your baby sleep together in the same bed. Half of all babies who die of SIDS are babies who share a bed, sofa or sofa chair with another person. The American Academy of Pediatrics (also called AAP) recommends that you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, for the first year of your baby’s life or at least for the first 6 months.
  • Is swaddled for sleep and rolls over on his tummy. Swaddling is when you snuggly wrap a thin blanket around your baby so that it covers most of his body below the neck. It’s safe to swaddle your baby until he can roll over.  When he can roll over, stop swaddling.
  • Has parents who smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs. 

How can you put your baby to sleep safely?

  • Put your baby to sleep on his back every time until he’s 1 year old.
  • Your baby should sleep on a flat, firm surface, like a crib mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib.
  • Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Remove any strings or ties from his pajamas and don’t cover his head. A blanket sleeper can help keep your baby warm without covering his head or face.
  • Put your baby to bed in his own crib or bassinet. Don’t bed-share.

What products can help lower a baby’s risk?

Giving your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime may help prevent SIDS. But if your baby doesn’t take a pacifier, don’t force it.

There are also products on the market such as special mattresses or wedges that are supposed to reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS. The AAP says not to use these products – there is no evidence they help prevent SIDS. For the same reason the AAP also advises against using home cardiorespiratory monitors as a way to reduce SIDS.

In honor of SIDS awareness month, take a minute to learn more about safe sleep for your baby. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

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