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“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” - Garrison Keillor

Safe Sleep FAQs

Q: What is a safe sleep environment?

Answer

Think about the ABCs.

  • ALONE
  • On her BACK
  • In a CRIB with a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet
  • In SMOKE-FREE air

If you don’t have a crib, your baby can sleep in a bassinet, if she is young and small enough. Your baby can also sleep safely in a portable crib or play yard that meets the safety requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov/cribs).

Don’t put soft materials or things like pillows, blankets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, or toys with your baby.

Don’t put your baby to sleep in things for sitting, like car safety seats, strollers, swings, or infant carriers.

Your baby can sleep in your room, but give your baby her own sleeping place. Your baby can sleep in a bassinet, crib, or portable play yard. Don’t let your baby sleep with you on a bed, a chair, a sofa, a recliner, a couch, the floor, a mattress on the floor, ANYWHERE!

Q: What is SIDS?

Answer

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) means the sudden death of a baby when no cause of death can be found after an autopsy and death investigation is complete. If you know the cause of death, it is not SIDS.

“Sudden Unexpected Infant Death” (SUID) is used for any sudden or unexpected death in infants. SUID includes infants who die from SIDS and infants who die from other causes.

Q: What causes SIDS?

Answer

The exact cause of SIDS is not known.

Some research suggests that there may be problems with the part of the brain that controls breathing. Some babies have a higher risk of dying of SIDS. These include:

  • Premature babies
  • Babies exposed to tobacco smoke
  • Babies exposed to some drugs

SIDS is not caused by vaccinations or vomiting/choking.

Q: When does SIDS happen?

Answer

Babies can die of SIDS in the first year of life. It is most common in babies between 1 and 4 months old.

Q: What can I do before my baby is born to lower my baby’s risk of SIDS?

Answer

Take care of yourself. See your health care provider regularly. Keep all prenatal appointments. Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. Avoid alcohol and other drugs.

Q: Did the recommendations for safe sleep change?

Answer

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) expanded its recommendations to focus more on the sleep environment to reduce deaths related to sleep. This includes SIDS, but is not limited to SIDS.

Q: What can I do to prepare a safe sleep environment for my baby?

Answer

Decide where your baby will sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their moms for the first 4-6 months. If your baby sleeps in your room, it can make feeding much easier. There are some things you should consider. Your baby should have his own sleep space, separate from yours.

Q: What kind of crib should I get?

Answer

Use a crib that meets current safety standards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site (www.cpsc.gov/cribs) has the latest information. Make sure the mattress fits snugly in the crib.

If you cannot afford a crib, you can contact your local resource phone number (211 in some areas) or Cribs for Kids (www.cribsforkids.org or 1-888-721-CRIB (2742)) for more information.

Q: Can my baby sleep in my bed with me?

Answer

No. Sleeping in a bed, on a couch, in a chair, or a recliner with a baby doubles the risk of sleep-related death.

Q: What can I have in my baby’s crib or bassinet?

Answer

You can have a firm sleep surface covered by tight fitting crib sheet.

Do not use blankets, pillows, or bumper pads. Do not keep soft, loose, or fluffy objects or stuffed toys in your baby’s bed. Do not use wedges or anything to help position your baby.

These items can cause babies to get caught or suffocate.

Q: Should I get a heart and breathing monitor for my baby?

Answer

No.

There’s no evidence that monitors decrease the risk of SIDS in healthy babies. Some babies may need monitoring for other reasons.

Q: What is the best sleep position for babies?

Answer

Babies should always be put on their backs to sleep. This even goes for naps.

Always put your baby to sleep on his back. If your baby is flat on his back without a wedge or a blanket or a pillow next to him, and he happens to turn over, you don’t have to turn him back over.

Q: My baby spits up a lot. Can my baby sleep on her tummy?

Answer

No.

Babies on their backs can protect themselves from choking. Babies can cough to keep their throats clear.

Q: Can babies ever be on their tummies?

Answer

Yes, tummy time is important for babies to develop normally. Babies should spend time daily on their tummies when they are awake. They should be watched while they are on their tummies. If your baby falls asleep on her tummy, turn her to her back.

Q: What can I do to keep my baby from getting a flat head?

Answer

Make sure your baby spends time on his tummy daily. When you put your baby to bed, try changing your baby’s direction in the crib. Put your baby’s head at the head of the bed one day and at the foot of the bed the next day.

Q: What else can I do to decrease my baby’s risk of SIDS?

Answer

Breastfeed your baby. Consider giving your baby breast milk for at least the first six months of his life.

Give your baby a dry pacifier at night. Make sure the pacifier is not attached to a string or anything else that might get wrapped around his neck.

Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep. Make sure your baby is not overdressed or wrapped too snugly. Use a one-piece sleeper and do not use a blanket.

Talk about safe sleep with everyone who will take care of your baby.

Make sure your baby gets regular well-child visits.

Get your baby vaccinated. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommendations for vaccinations for infants and children.

Q: Should I use a pacifier?

Answer

Pacifier use may decrease a baby’s risk for SIDS. You can wait until your baby breastfeeds well before trying a pacifier. If your baby’s pacifier falls out while the baby is sleeping, that’s okay.

Q: What if my baby rolls to her tummy?

Answer

If your baby rolls to her tummy, you can leave her in that position.

There’s no evidence that wedges or other products to keep a baby from rolling over lower the risk of SIDS. These items may increase the baby’s risk of suffocation.

Q: What can I do to help my baby fall asleep?

Answer

You can try these things:

  • Sing, hum, or play soft music.
  • Walk your baby in your arms until she is sleepy. Then, put her on her back in the crib.
  • Put your baby’s crib or bassinet near your bed.
  • Talk to your baby’s care provider about other suggestions.

Q: Is it safe to sleep in the car seat or swing at home?

Answer

No. Babies less than 4 months old may get caught in a position that makes it hard for them to breathe. If your baby falls asleep in a car seat or swing, move him to a crib or other safe place as soon as possible.

Q: What should I do if my baby has to sleep somewhere other than at home?

Answer

Talk to the baby’s caregiver about safe sleep.

See if your baby can sleep in something similar to his crib. If that’s not available, consider a portable play yard.

Make sure the caregivers put your baby to sleep on his back. Babies who usually sleep on their backs have a higher risk for SIDS if they are put to sleep on their tummies.