Safe Sleep

What is the best way to reduce my baby’s risk for SIDS, suffocation and other sleep related infant deaths?

Research shows that following safe sleep practices can help lower your baby’s risk of sudden unexpected infant death from SIDS and prevent suffocation and other causes of sleep related infant death.

At the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death (SID) Center, we can help you learn the ABCs of safe sleep, and beyond. Remember to tell all baby’s caregivers (babysitters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and child care providers) to follow safe sleep, for every sleep time: Alone, on the Back, in a Crib — when caring for your baby.

Alone

  • Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or chair — alone or with anyone else
  • Consider having baby sleep in same room with you for the first 6 months — not in the same bed. If you bring baby to bed to breastfeed or comfort, always place him in his own crib when you are finished and before you go to sleep.

Back:

  • Place baby on his back to sleep for every sleep time

Crib (safe environment):

  • Use a safety approved crib, bassinet or play yard, with a firm mattress, covered with a tight fitting sheet
  • If visiting away from home, make sure baby has a safe crib, bassinet or play yard for sleep time. Baby should never sleep on an adult bed, sofa on blankets, pillows, pallet on the floor, etc.
  • Keep soft objects, toys, blankets, pillows and bumper pads out of baby’s sleep area
  • Rather than a loose blanket to keep baby warm, consider using a one-piece wearable blanket to keep baby warm during sleep.
  • Give baby tummy time when he is awake and supervised

What else can I do to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death?

  • Breastfeed for at least 6 months or as long as possible
  • Pregnant women should not smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born
  • No one should smoke around the baby
  • Avoid overheating baby – Keep the room temperature so it’s comfortable for you. Dress baby with one more layer than adult would wear for comfort
  • Offer baby a clean dry pacifier (not attached to string) for sleep. Don’t force use if baby isn’t interested
  • Follow medical guidance on baby shots and well baby check ups
  • Give baby lots of tummy time when you are watching him and limit time in swings, bouncers or infant seats
  • Avoid products marketed to prevent SIDS

How can grandparents help?

Grandparents are often an important source of support, information and guidance that parents turn to when learning how to care for their children. However, many of these safe sleep practices may be different from what grandparents did with their own children and what was thought best at that time. Yet grandparents know that new research knowledge teaches us better ways to do things. Grandparents can help keep their grandchildren “safe to sleep” by following these safe sleep practices when caring for their grandchildren themselves but as importantly by encouraging their children to follow safe sleep practices too. Check out more resources to reduce the risk.

What should all child care providers and parents know about safe sleep regulations for licensed care?

Following safe sleep recommendations in licensed child care is mandated practice. For detailed information on child care safe sleep legislation and regulation please visit the Minnesota child care legislation page.

How do I incorporate tummy time?

Babies, like adults, should move and be in different positions throughout their day. Limit use of car seats, infant carriers, infant swings, etc. Use tummy time for play. Place baby on his stomach when he is awake and being supervised.

Tummy time strengthens neck and shoulder muscles, encourages motor development, prevents flat spots on baby’s head, and helps baby learn to use both sides of his body. These are important skills to build as baby continues to grow and develop physically, emotionally, and socially.

Remember: Back to sleep, tummy to play

Will my baby choke if placed on his back to sleep?

No. Research has shown no increase in choking or aspiration when baby sleeps on his back. Healthy babies naturally swallow or cough up fluids — it’s a reflex all people have. When baby is sleeping on his back, the position of the trachea (breathing pipe) in relation to the esophagus (food pipe) actually helps baby clear such fluids better than when baby is on the tummy.

What if my baby rolls onto her stomach on her own during sleep? Do I need to put my baby in the back sleep position again if this happens?

  • No. Rolling over is an important and natural part of your baby’s growth. Most babies start rolling from back to tummy on their own around 4 to 6 months of age. If your baby rolls over on her own during sleep, you do not need to turn the baby over onto her back.
  • The important thing is that the baby start every sleep time on her back, in a crib and that there is nothing in the baby’s sleep area other than a tight fitting sheet on a firm mattress.
  • Remember tummy time for play. From the time baby is born, give baby tummy time for play when awake and you are watching her. This helps baby strengthen her neck and shoulder muscles so she can easily lift her face off of the mattress if she rolls to tummy.

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