• Putting Your Baby to Sleep Safely

    Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so it's important to provide them with a safe sleep environment.

    Wistia video thumbnail

    Learn about safe sleep for babies in this video from the National Institutes of Health. A longer (10-minute) version here provides more information.

    Parents can be anxious to make their baby as comfortable during sleep as possible. However, some of the things they typically do to provide a cozy bed can increase the chance of serious problems.

    Certain items in and around the crib can be a suffocation hazard to infants. Though they may be harmless to older children, infants have smaller airways and less head control. This means they might not be able to reposition themselves if their access to air is blocked, even by something as simple as a blanket.

    Fortunately, there are a few easy steps to make your baby's sleep environment much safer without disturbing your baby's sleep.

    Infant sleep hazards

    All parents and caregivers should be aware of the possible hazards associated with sleeping.

    Dangers of infants sleeping in adult beds

    • Getting trapped between the mattress and another object
    • Getting trapped between the mattress and the wall
    • Getting baby's head trapped in headboard or footboard rails
    • Suffocation from soft items like clothing, blankets, pillows, and thick bedding

    Infants less than one year of age:

    Problems have been caused by all of the above as well as the following:

    • Sleeping on the stomach, a position that has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
    • Soft bedding, such as pillows, quilts, comforters and sheepskins
    • Sleep positioners, which are unnecessary and pose a danger

    Making your baby’s bed safe

    Here are some tips to making your baby's sleep safer from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Place your baby in a safe position on safe bedding

    When putting a baby less than one year of age to sleep, make sure that you:

    • Place the baby on his back.
    • Keep the baby’s head uncovered during sleep.
    • Consider offering the baby a pacifier during nap time and bedtime.

    Note: When your child is awake, it's okay for your baby to have supervised play time on their belly. This will help your baby develop some posture muscles.

    For safe bedding, be sure you:

    • Don't use loose bedding.
    • Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing instead of blankets.
    • If a blanket is used at all, use a thin one that is tucked under the mattress at the bottom of the crib to keep it from covering the baby's head or face during sleep.
    • Use only a fitted bottom sheet specifically made for the mattress.

    Avoid sleep surfaces that are too soft

    Do not place the baby to sleep on soft surfaces such as:

    • Waterbeds
    • Sofas
    • Soft mattresses
    • Pillows

    Your baby can sleep in the same room as you, but do not share the bed.

    Make sure the crib is safe

    A safe crib will have:

    • No missing or broken hardware
    • Slats no more than 2-3/8" apart
    • No corner posts more than 1/16" high
    • No cutout designs in the headboard or footboard
    • A firm, tight-fitting mattress
    • A safety certification seal

    Remove soft bedding

    Remove soft products from the baby’s crib such as:

    • Loose blankets or sheets
    • Pillows
    • Quilts
    • Comforters
    • Sheepskins
    • Bumper pads
    • Stuffed toys

    Make sure the mesh-sided crib or play-pen is safe

    For mesh-sided cribs or playpens, look for:

    • Mesh less than 1/4 inch in size, smaller than the tiny buttons on a baby's clothing
    • Mesh with no tears, holes or loose threads that could entangle a baby
    • Mesh that is securely attached to top rail and floor plate
    • Top rail cover with no tears or holes
    • If staples are used, make sure they are not missing, loose or exposed
    • Use the firm, tight-fitting mattress that came from the manufacturer


    National Institutes of Health Safe to Sleep campaign –  www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/

    Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association safe sleep resources at www.jpma.org

    U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's Safe to Sleep Crib Information Center at www.cpsc.gov


    A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx Accessed November 7, 2012

    Healthy Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Back-to-Sleep-Tummy-to-Play.aspx Accessed November 6, 2012

    Consumer Product Safety Commission. Crib safety tips. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5030.html. Accessed November 6, 2012.

    CPSC cautions caregivers about hidden hazards for babies on adult beds. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5091.pdf. Accessed November 6, 2012.

    Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. American Academy of Pediatrics Statement: The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome: diagnostic coding shifts, controversies regarding the sleeping environment, and new variables to consider in reduction risk. Pediatrics. 2005;116:1245-1255. Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/116/5/1245

    10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: US Food and Drug Administration. Infant sleep positioners: consumer warning—risk of suffocation. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm227575.htm. Updated 7/17/2012. Accessed November 6, 2012.

    11/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics. 2011;128(5):1030-1039.

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