New Guidelines Create Opportunities for Infant Safe Sleep

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

April 25, 2005

A new report issued this week as part of 2005’s Month of the Young Child indicates that new guidelines for sleeping infants – if followed – will significantly reduce Michigan’s infant mortality rate, state officials said.

“Following these new Safe Sleep guidelines may contradict some traditional family norms, but we are urging parents to follow these new guidelines when putting babies to sleep,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “These recommendations have been created in partnership with many dedicated health care providers in the interest of preventing another tragic infant loss.”

New recommendations from the Infant Safe Sleep Task Force in Michigan now include:

  • Babies should always sleep by themselves in a crib, portable crib or bassinet.
  • Babies are not safe sleeping with other children, adults or pets.
  • Always put baby to sleep on the back.
  • Put nothing in the sleep area with the baby – no pillows, blankets, comforters, stuffed animals, or other soft objects.
  • Keep baby’s face uncovered during sleep for easy breathing.
  • Use a sleeper instead of a blanket if possible.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke anything around the baby.
  • Be sure not to overheat the baby.
  • Dress the baby in as much or as little clothing as you are wearing for the outside temperature.
  • Use a firm mattress in the crib with a tightly fitted sheet.

The report – released by Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Children’s Cabinet – which includes representatives from the Department of Human Services, Community Health, Labor and Economic Growth, and Education – is available online at

“Safe sleep practices contribute to better overall health for infants and can help ensure a child’s great start in life,” said Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Marianne Udow.

MDHHS administers adoption, foster care and child day care programs in Michigan. Michigan has had a higher infant mortality rate than the rest of the United States for many years. Annually, sleep-related infant deaths account for many of the 300 deaths in children aged one month to one year. Michigan saw its first significant decline in sleep-related deaths between 1992 and 1995, due to the state’s first “Back-to-Sleep” campaign. In recent years information from death scene reviews shows that many infants die from accidental suffocation, with most having been sleeping in a bed with an adult.