Parents and Caregivers

Learn what parents and caregivers can do to help babies sleep safely.

Creating a Safe Sleep Area for Babies

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:

mother laying baby on back in crib
  • 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 cribexternal icon, 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 icon[PDF – 1.5KB]external icon from Safe to Sleep®.

Additional Recommendations to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

CDC supports the 2016 recommendationsexternal icon 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. Find out more about breastfeeding your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS pdf icon[480 KB]external icon.
  • 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 Deathexternal icon from Safe to Sleep® and Reduce the Risk of SIDS & Suffocationexternal icon from AAP’s Healthy Children website.

CDC Safe Sleep Video

In 2019, CDC hosted a Facebook live event to communicate information about safe sleep for babies during SIDS Awareness Month. To support organizations in developing their own remote, live social media events to promote safe sleep, CDC developed a toolkit with additional resources.

Safe Sleep Resources

Safe to Sleep®

CDC collaborates with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in its Safe to Sleep®external icon campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign. The Safe to Sleep® campaign has outreach activities to spread safe sleep messages and educational materialsexternal icon about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.

Cribs for Kids®

Cribs for Kidsexternal icon® 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 programexternal icon) 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 tipsexternal icon from Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries.

Grief Resources

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: