Safe Sleep Steps

Follow these steps to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. These steps aren’t always as simple as they sound. If you need help or feel overwhelmed, talk with your healthcare provider to create a plan that is best for you and your baby. Reach out to family and friends to ask for help.

  1. Your baby should sleep alone in a crib, portable crib, bassinet or pack ‘n play (play yard) with only a firm mattress and tightly fitted sheet for every sleep time.
  • Babies are safest when they sleep in a crib, bassinet or pack n’ play. When babies sleep with an adult or another child, that person could accidently roll over and suffocate the baby. Or, a baby can get stuck or wedged between the bed and the wall, furniture or other objects. In addition, babies can suffocate on objects in the sleep environment. Babies are not safe sleeping on couches or chairs. They can suffocate on or get wedged between the cushions.
  1. Always place your baby on the back to sleep. Once your baby can roll from back to stomach and from stomach to back, he or she can be allowed to remain in the sleep position that he or she baby chooses.
  • Back sleeping protects a baby’s airway and ensures access to fresh air. Babies on the stomach can sleep too deeply and may not wake up to take a breath. Also, babies who are placed to sleep on the stomach may not physically be able to move to take a breath if needed. Babies, especially when young, can have poor head and neck control.
  1. No pillows, blankets, comforters, stuffed animals or other objects should be in your baby’s sleep area.
  • Babies are protected the crib, bassinet or pack ‘n play is bare. Babies can suffocate on pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and other objects in the sleep area.
  1. Your baby should sleep where you can see and hear them. Share your room, not your bed.
  • Experts have found that babies who sleep in their parents’ room in a crib, bassinet or pack ‘n play have a reduced risk of sleep-related infant death.
  1. Avoid covering your baby’s head when sleeping or overheating your baby.After hospital discharge, your baby should not wear a hat when sleeping. Your baby should be dressed for the space he or she is in. If you think your baby is cold, dress him or her in a footed sleeper with a sleep sack right for his or her size and age.
  • Getting too warm or overheated can increase a baby’s risk of sleep-related infant death. Hats can cause baby to get too warm because baby is unable to release heat through the head. Hats can also slip off and become a suffocation hazard.
  1. Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for babies, builds the immune system and promotes bonding, as well as many other health benefits for mom and baby. Breastfeeding also has been shown to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant death.
  1. Don't allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • Having a smoke-free environment protects babies. Smoking during pregnancy and exposure to secondhand smoke increases a baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related infant death. Recent research shows that smoking even one cigarette a day during pregnancy doubles a baby’s risk of sleep-related death.
  1. Consider offering your baby a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. For breastfed infants, pacifiers shouldn’t be used until breastfeeding is firmly established.
  • Pacifier use has been associated with a decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  1. Car seats, swings and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep. Learn why these products are not safe for sleep. If your baby falls asleep in a swing, bouncy seat, car seat, or other sitting devices, he or she should be moved to a crib, bassinet, or pack ‘n play as soon as it is possible.
  • Babies are safest when they sleep in a crib, bassinet or pack ‘n play. Babies can suffocate while sleeping in a swing or any seat that puts them on an incline. An incline could cause a baby’s head to slump and his or her airway could be pinched. A baby’s airway is only about the size of a drinking straw! Also, a baby can more easily roll over when sleeping on an incline even if he or she hasn’t done so before. Rolling over in an inclined seat can cause a baby to suffocate. 
  1. Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily.
  • Tummy time helps babies develop neck, shoulder and arm muscles that help them move and meet developmental milestones. It also helps prevent the development of a flat head.

Share this information with all family, friends, and child care providers who may care for your baby to ensure they follow the safe sleep steps. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common questions about these guidelines.

It is also important that you and your baby stay healthy – by obtaining regular prenatal care, taking baby to wellness checkups and obtaining recommended immunizations. Learn more about keeping healthy.

These guidelines based on the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations for a Safe Sleeping Environment.

Related Images
Infant Safe Sleep Poster