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9 ways to protect your baby from SIDS

Researchers have identified ways to make infant sleep safer. 

Here are the basics you need to know to help protect your baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths. 

Follow these safer sleep recommendations from experts:

1. Always place your baby to sleep on their back. 

That means at every nap and bedtime for the first year of life, no exceptions. Remind other caregivers to do this too. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS. 

2. Share a room—but not a bed. 

Put your baby to sleep in a separate bassinet or crib near your bed. This can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. Sharing a room is recommended for at least the first six months. 

3. Stick to a firm, flat sleep surface. 

Use a mattress covered by a fitted sheet in a bassinet or crib that meets current safety standards. A safety-approved playpen is also OK. It's a good idea to check that the product has not been recalled. And it should have no broken or missing parts or drop-side rails.

Never let your baby sleep—alone or with you or anyone else—on an adult bed, armchair or couch. If your baby nods off in a car seat, stroller or infant carrier, move them to a firm surface as soon as you can. 

4. Keep extra stuff out of cribs and bassinets. 

Soft objects, toys and loose bedding, such as blankets and crib bumpers, raise the risk of suffocation. 

5. Help baby avoid getting too warm. 

Overheating is linked to SIDS. Dress your baby in sleep clothing so a blanket isn't necessary. And don't cover your baby's head. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

6. Offer a pacifier. 

Sucking on a pacifier may reduce a baby's risk of SIDS. If you're nursing, don't introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is going smoothly—usually that takes a few weeks. 

7. Be sure immunizations stay up-to-date. 

No matter what you've heard, vaccines don't cause SIDS. But they may help prevent it.

8. Ban smoking near your baby. 

This rule applies even outdoors. Avoiding smoke can help reduce a baby's risk of SIDS. 

9. Breastfeed if it's an option. 

Among other benefits, nursing—for at least a year, if possible—helps protect babies from SIDS. For the first six months of life, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises breast milk only.  

Nice crib, babe! 

Safe sleep starts with a safe space. Check out these crib basics to make sure you're covered for safety.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; March of Dimes

Reviewed 12/19/2023

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