Baby sleeping safe and sound

Help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by creating a safe sleep area for babies.

Each year, about 3,500 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping, often due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In Colorado alone, sudden unexpected infant death takes the lives of approximately 50 children under the age of one each year, mainly from accidental suffocation or strangulation from sleeping in an unsafe environment.

There have been dramatic improvements in reducing infant deaths during sleep since the 1990s, when a national safe sleep campaign was launched. However, declines have slowed in recent years, and SIDS remains the leading cause of death for babies between the ages of one month and one year. Due to SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths, including accidental suffocation, more than 300 babies every month lose their life.

Alone. Back. Crib. A SIDS death occurs quickly and is almost always associated with sleep. Unfortunately, any baby can die from SIDS, although the risk greatly decreases after six months of age. While we don't know what causes SIDS, we do know that many of these infant deaths are the result of an unsafe sleep environment. Research shows parents and caregivers can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by following some simple guidelines.

Create a safe sleep area for babies by practicing the ABCs

  • A: Alone. Your baby should sleep alone, in a separate space, for every sleep (naps and nighttime). Never place an infant to sleep in bed with a parent, sibling or other caregiver. Keep your baby's crib or bassinet in the same room where you sleep until your baby is at least six months old. Room-sharing is much safer than bed-sharing and may decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. Placing the crib or bassinet close to your bed can also make it easier to feed, comfort and monitor your baby. 
  • B: Back. Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times—for naps and at night. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their sides or stomachs. If a baby spits up while sleeping on their back, their anatomy and gag reflex will prevent them from choking.
  • C: Crib. Use a firm, flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered only by a fitted sheet. Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads and soft toys out of your baby's sleep area to avoid risk of suffocation or entrapment. 

Additional tips for safe sleep, every sleep

  • Never place a baby to sleep on an adult bed, couch, sofa or cushioned chair, either alone or with another person.
  • Bibs and clip-on pacifiers are unsafe for sleep and should never be allowed in the crib.
  • Facilitate development and strengthen their neck muscles by giving your baby plenty of supervised tummy time when he or she is awake.
  • Don't use a car seat, swing, stroller or infant carrier for routine sleep.
  • Don't swaddle your baby after they are able to roll over. Also, avoid swaddling the infant so tightly that they cannot breathe or move their hips.
  • Keep rooms at a temperature comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult. Check infants to make sure they're not overheated or sweaty. Dress him or her in a wearable blanket or sleep sack if the room is cool.
  • Don't smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby or in your baby's environment. Infants exposed to smoking, either while in the womb or after birth, have a higher risk of SIDS than infants who are not exposed. Doctors estimate that one third of SIDS deaths could be prevented if no women smoked during their pregnancies. For more information on how to quit smoking, call the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.
  • Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.
  • Breastfeed or feed your baby expressed breast milk. If you fall asleep while feeding or comforting baby, make sure to place him or her in a separate sleep area as soon as you wake up.
  • Avoid using sleep positioning devices.
  • Don't use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Consider offering a pacifier (with no pacifier attachments) at naptime and bedtime. But wait until breastfeeding is well-established (often by three to four weeks) before offering a pacifier.
  • Check that your crib meets current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
  • Crib slats should be spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches (about the size of a soda can) apart.
  • Attend all well-child visits. Immunizations received at these visits can help prevent SIDS.
  • Avoid placing a crib near windows, draperies, blinds or wall-mounted decorative accessories with cords.

LEARN MORE - Safe to Sleep campaign website provides information and materials about safe infant sleep, safe infant sleep environments and ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. - Tips to practice safe sleep at home and everywhere, including child care provider requirements and a checklist for baby's first day in care. - Working to prevent infant sleep-related deaths by educating parents and caregivers on the importance of practicing safe sleep for their babies through programs and by providing portable cribs to families who otherwise can't afford a safe place for their babies to sleep. - Helping every baby sleep safer through education, home safety tips, milestone information and resources. - 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. - Nonprofit committed to the elimination of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths through education, while providing support for grieving families who have suffered a loss. - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and SIDS website provides information and resources that caregivers can use to help babies sleep safely. - Videos, downloadable safety materials and specific product hazard information related to safe sleep. - American Academy of Pediatrics collection of articles with recommendations for infant safe sleep and information on sleeping habits and best practices. - Colorado smoking cessation information.