What is safe sleep?

Babies sleep safest Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib for nighttime, nap time and every time. 

Sleep-related infant death is the leading cause of infant mortality from one month to one year of age. Sleep-related infant death can result from unintentional suffocation/strangulation. The best way to prevent sleep-related deaths is for all parents and caregivers to provide a safe sleeping environment for infants.

Safe Sleep should not be confused with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sleep related deaths are almost entirely preventable; true SIDS deaths are not. With continued education we are learning that many infant deaths that would have previously been identified as SIDS are now being determined as sleep-related deaths. 

To prevent sleep related infant deaths, practice your ABCs for every sleep.

What we know about sleep-related infant death has changed over the years.

In the past, many sleep-related deaths were defined as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but now new categories have been added to more-precisely define the different causes of sleep-related deaths.

We now know that many babies actually die from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed

  • This is most commonly caused by a baby sleeping in an unsafe-sleeping environment; not Alone, on their Back, or in a Crib
  • These deaths are preventable

Babies Sleep Safest When They’re Alone

  • Bring your baby in your room with you, but in their own sleep space
  • Sharing a room – but not a bed – at night will allow you to comfort your baby in times of need
  • Sharing a sleep surface with an infant is extremely dangerous
  • Dangers include:
  • An infant may not be able to move their head to breathe
  • Infants can easily be wedged, trapped, or rolled over on when sharing a sleep surface
  • Blankets, pillows, and other soft bedding items can cause suffocation
  • Room sharing makes it easier to:
  • Feed
  • Comfort
  • Monitor your baby while they sleep

Babies Sleep Safest On Their Back

  • Placing your baby to sleep on their back is not only safer, but research shows babies who sleep on their back have:
  • Fewer ear infections
  • Fewer fevers
  • Fewer stuffy noses
  • A baby should be placed on their back to sleep every time (for naps and at night)
  • Sleeping on their back does NOT increase the risk of choking if an infant spits up
  • In fact, an infant is actually less likely to choke if they are on their back
  • Placing a baby to sleep on their side is also dangerous
  • Babies on their side can easily roll to their stomach
  • Side sleeping can also cause:
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Too much carbon dioxide
  • Suffocation

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safety approved Crib/bassinet/portable crib/pack n play

  • Your baby’s crib/bassinet/portable crib/pack n play should only contain a fitted crib sheet.
  • Items placed in a crib can get too close to the baby’s face and head and block the baby’s airway, causing suffocation or strangulation
  • If you are worried your baby may get cold, you should dress them in a wearable blanket (like a sleep sack) or pajamas with feet
  • You can also swaddle, but this should be stopped as soon as the baby shows signs of rolling over
  • Once a baby starts rolling over, a swaddle can be a suffocation or strangulation risk
  • If your baby falls asleep somewhere else other than a crib/bassinet/portable crib, move them to their safe sleep space as soon as possible
  • When sleeping in a car seat, bouncer or other device that is not a crib, the baby is at risk of suffocation
  • Baby’s head can fall forward
  • Baby can get into a position that blocks their airway

Safe Late Night Feedings to Ensure Safe Sleep:

  • If a parent feels they must bring a baby into bed for a feeding, it’s important they stay awake and return the baby to their crib afterwards.
  • To avoid potential hazards while feeding baby in bed:
  • Remain sitting up
  • Keep all pillows, blankets, and soft bedding away from baby
  • Ensure bed is a firm mattress
  • Be sure to put baby back in crib (next to bed) after feeding
  • If the parent does fall asleep while feeding, put baby back in his/her sleep space as soon as awake
  • Ways to stay awake during late-night feedings:
  • Keeping the lights on
  • Setting an alarm
  • Playing on a device (such as a phone)
  • Informing another adult in the home, so they can remind you to put your baby back to bed
  • Watch television
  • Sit upright in a chair, not on a sofa or in a reclined chair
  • The most dangerous place to lay down or feed a baby when you’re tired is a recliner or a couch
  • A baby can easily get trapped between cushions, their caregiver, or other objects that can lead to suffocation and entrapment

What does safe sleep look like?