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Parents and Caregivers

Health care providers and researchers don't know the exact causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, research shows parents and caregivers can take the following actions to help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant (less than 1 year old) death

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep for every sleep.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Have the baby share your room, not your bed. Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.
  • Keep soft objects, such as pillows and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.
  • Prevent exposure to smoking during pregnancy and after birth because these are important risk factors for SIDS. The risk of SIDS is even stronger when a baby shares a bed with a smoker. To reduce risk, do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby. For help in quitting, call the quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit

See Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Death from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to learn more about each of these actions.

  Baby placed on its back for sleep.

Creating a Safe Sleep Environment

Learn more about safe sleep environments and reducing the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by reading the NICHD publication What does a safe sleep environment look like? [PDF-320KB] 

CDC supports 2011 recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). These recommendations aim to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS. Learn more at the Healthy Children website sponsored by AAP.

Image of a baby sleeping with text Safe to Sleep

Safe to Sleep

CDC collaborates with the National Institutes of Health in its Safe to Sleep campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign. Safe to Sleep has outreach and education activities aimed at reducing infant death from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths.