Share the room, not the bed. Always place your baby alone in a crib, bassinet, or play yard with a firm mattress. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your room (within arm’s reach), but not in your bed. This way, you can easily breastfeed and bond with your baby. Never nap on a couch or chair while holding your baby and don’t lay your baby down on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, air mattresses, pillows, or cushions.
Back is best for baby. Always put your baby to sleep on their back. Healthy babies naturally swallow or cough up their spit up, so your baby will not choke if he’s on his back.
Bare is Best. Many parents believe their baby won’t be safe and warm without bumper pads, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals, but these items can be deadly. Babies can suffocate on any extra item in the crib.
Place your baby to sleep in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Sleep clothing like fitted, appropriate-sized sleepers and sleep sacks, are safer for baby than blankets!
Recommendations for Infant Sleep Safety according to the American Academy of Pediatrics
What Everyone can do:
+ Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night.
We know babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily onto the stomach. Some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs, but the baby's airway anatomy and the gag reflex will keep that from happening. Even babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) should sleep on their backs.
- Some babies will roll onto their stomachs. You should always place your baby to sleep on the back, but if your baby is comfortable rolling both ways (back to tummy, tummy to back), then you do not have to return your baby to the back. However, be sure that there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads around your baby, so that your baby does not roll into any of those items, which could cause blockage of air flow.
+ Use a firm sleep surface.
A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended along with a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby. A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it
- If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, you should move him or her to a firm sleep surface on his or her back as soon as possible.
+ Share your room but do not share your bed
Keep baby's sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year.
Place your baby's crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard in your bedroom, close to your bed. The AAP recommends room sharing because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is much safer than bed sharing. In addition, room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby.
Bed sharing is not recommended for any babies. However, certain situations make bed-sharing even more dangerous. Therefore, you should not bed share with your baby if:
Your baby is younger than 4 months old.
Your baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight.
You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if you do not smoke in bed).
The mother of the baby smoked during pregnancy.
You have taken any medicines or drugs that might make it harder for you to wake up.
You drank any alcohol.
You are not the baby's parent.
The surface is soft, such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.
There is soft bedding like pillows or blankets on the bed.
+ Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
This is an extremely dangerous place for your baby to sleep.
+ Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby's sleep area.
These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides. If you are worried about your baby getting cold, you can use infant sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket. In general, your baby should be dressed with only one layer more than you are wearing.
+ Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
This helps reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after the baby is asleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 2-3 weeks. If you are not breastfeeding your baby, you can start the pacifier whenever you like. It's OK if your baby doesn't want a pacifier. You can try offering again later, but some babies simply don't like them. If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep, you don't have to put it back in.
+ It is ok to swaddle your baby.
Make sure that the baby is always on his or her back when swaddled. The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for the baby to breathe or move his or her hips. When your baby looks like he or she is trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling.
What Mom's can do:
+ Do not smoke during pregnancy or after your baby is born.
Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. If you are a smoker or you smoked during pregnancy, it is very important that you do not bed share with your baby. Also, keep your car and home smoke-free. Don't smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.
+ Do not use alcohol or illicit drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born.
It is very important not to bed share with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol or taken any medicines or illicit drugs that can make it harder for you to wake up.
+ Breastfeed or feed your baby expressed breast milk.
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS. The AAP recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. Even after you add solid foods to your baby's diet, continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months, or longer if you and your baby desire.
+ Schedule well-child visits for immunizations.
Recent evidence suggests that immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS.
+ Practice tummy time every day.
Awake tummy time should be supervised by an awake adult. This helps with baby's motor development and prevents flat head syndrome. See the AAP's Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play for more information and ways to play with the baby during tummy time.
What to beware of:
+ Don't believe claims that a product can "prevent SIDS."
There is no known way or product to prevent SIDS. Products such as wedges, positioners, and other sleep aids have not been tested for safety or effectiveness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the CPSC, the AAP, and other organizations warn against these products because of the dangers they pose to babies.
Safe Swaddling according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, it’s important to place your baby to sleep on his back, every time you put him to sleep. This may be even more important if your baby is swaddled. Some studies have shown an increased risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation when babies are swaddled if they are placed on their stomach to sleep, or if they roll onto their stomach, says Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, chair of the task force that authored the AAP’s safe sleep recommendations.
- Place your baby on her back, and monitor her to make sure she doesn't roll.
- When your baby looks like he or she is trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling.
- Keep hips loose. Babies who are swaddled too tightly may develop a problem with their hips. Studies have found that straightening and tightly wrapping a baby’s legs can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip joint where the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the socket of the hip.
The Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, with the AAP Section on Orthopaedics, promotes “hip-healthy swaddling” that allows the baby’s legs to bend up and out.