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Infant Safe Sleep

Safe Sleep for Your Baby

Safe sleep means putting your baby to sleep in ways that can help protect him or her from dangers, like choking and suffocation (not being able to breathe), and sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS). SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. SIDS usually happens when a baby is sleeping. It’s sometimes called crib death because the baby often dies in his crib. Each year in the United States, thousands of babies die suddenly and unexpectedly from SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death, such as suffocation. To reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night
  • Share your room with baby. Keep baby close to your bed, on a separate surface designed for infants.
  • Use a firm and flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft items in the sleep area.

Since the 1990s, when the U.S. back-sleeping recommendations were first released and public awareness efforts began, the overall U.S. SIDS rate has dropped. But, as SIDS rates have declined, deaths from other sleep-related causes, such as suffocation, have increased and certain groups remain at higher risk for SIDS than others.

For example, African American and American Indian/ Alaska Native babies are at higher risk for SIDS than white, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander babies.

Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of SIDS

Babies who are breastfed or are fed expressed breastmilk are at lower risk for SIDS compared with babies who were never fed breastmilk. According to research, the longer you exclusively breastfeed your baby (meaning not supplementing with formula), the lower his or her risk of SIDS.

If you bring baby into your bed for feeding, remove all soft items and bedding from the area. When finished, put baby back in a separate sleep area made for infants.

If you fall asleep while feeding baby in your bed, place him or her back in the separate sleep area as soon as you wake up.

Learn more about SIDS and safe infant sleep at safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov.