Smart Tips for Safer Sleep

This content has been clinically reviewed by Vivian Lennon, M.D. 

It’s a scary statistic: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for babies ages 0 - 12 months. The good news? It's often preventable.

These tips can help you reduce the risk of SIDS for your little one, and help you both sleep easy.

Talk to Your Babysitter About Safe Sleep Practices

About one in five SIDS deaths occur while an infant is in someone else’s care. That’s why it’s important that you talk to your caregivers—including family, friends and teenage babysitters¬—who may not be aware of safe sleep practices.

Accidental deaths that occur when a baby’s in the care of someone else usually occur when a baby who is used to sleeping on her back is put to sleep on her stomach. Experts call this “unaccustomed tummy sleeping,’’ and it increases the risk of SIDS.

This doesn’t mean your child can never be put on her stomach—but it should be during playtime when the baby is awake and being watched.

Is Your Crib Up-to-Date?

Here are some recommendations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  1. Always put your baby to sleep in a crib that meets safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission. If you are getting a used crib, check to see if it has been recalled at www.recalls.gov.
  2. Make sure the mattress is firm and tight-fitting so the baby can’t get trapped between the mattress and the crib.
  3. Crib slats should be narrower than a can of soda so that a child’s head, hand or foot cannot get stuck.
  4. Make sure there are no cutouts in the headboard or footboard so a baby’s head cannot get trapped.
  5. Don’t use cribs with drop rails. Since 2011, federal standards have prohibited the manufacture or sale of drop-side cribs and required better slats, mattress supports and more rigorous testing.
  6. Don’t use broken or modified cribs, or cribs more than 10 years old.
  7. Place your crib away from windows—out of direct sunlight and drafts—and away from radiators, so your baby doesn’t get overheated. Make sure there are no strings from blinds or curtains within reach of your baby.

Updated Sleep Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics

In October 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their safe sleep recommendations to include keeping your new baby in your bedroom to sleep for the first 6 to 12 months. 

To find out what's best for your new baby and living situation, talk with your pediatrician. 

You can also read the full set of 2016 safe sleep tips from the AAP here

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.