Parents and Caregivers
Learn what parents and caregivers can do to help babies sleep safely.
Health care providers and researchers don’t know the exact causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, research shows parents and caregivers can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by doing the following:
- Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times—naps and at night.
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
- 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.
- Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of your baby’s sleep area.
- Do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Signs your baby may be getting too hot include sweating or his or her chest feels hot.
View a safe sleep environment at What does a safe sleep environment look like? [PDF – 1.5KB] from Safe to Sleep®.
CDC supports the 2016 recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In addition to the recommendations listed above, other recommendations from the AAP to reduce the risk of SIDS include:
- Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby. For help quitting, see How to Quit Smoking.
- Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs during pregnancy.
- Breastfeed your baby.
- Visit your baby’s health care provider for regular checkups. Your baby will receive important shots to prevent disease.
- Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may want to wait to use a pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established.
Parents and caregivers can learn more about these recommendations at Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Death from Safe to Sleep® and Reduce the Risk of SIDS & Suffocation from AAP’s Healthy Children website.
Safe to Sleep®
CDC collaborates with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in its Safe to Sleep® campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign. The Safe to Sleep® campaign has outreach activities to spread safe sleep messages and educational materials about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
Cribs for Kids®
Cribs for Kids® works to prevent infant sleep-related deaths by educating parents and caregivers on the importance of practicing safe sleep for their babies through programs (such as the Safe Sleep Ambassador program) and by providing portable cribs to families who, otherwise, cannot afford a safe place for their babies to sleep.
Safe Kids Worldwide
Find sleep safety and suffocation prevention tips from Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries.
Unfortunately, there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US babies each year. The following organizations offer support for families who have experienced the tragic loss of a baby:
- Page last reviewed: July 12, 2018
- Page last updated: July 12, 2018
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