Although the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has decreased since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that infants sleep in a nonprone position, this trend has plateaued.1 The frequencies of other causes of sudden sleep-related deaths have also increased since the AAP published its last statement on SIDS in 2005. The following tips may help in continuing to decrease the risk for SIDS and sleep-related deaths:
- Place Infants on Their Backs for Sleep Time
Because side sleeping is unsafe, you should always place infants on their backs for every sleep until they reach age 1 year. When your infants are able to roll from their back onto their chest and vice versa, they can remain in whichever sleep position they desire.
- Always Use a Firm Sleep Surface
Cover a firm crib mattress with a fitted sheet to reduce infants’ risks for SIDS and suffocation. Do not use cribs with missing hardware, or attempt to fix broken parts of a crib. Also refrain from using sitting devices (eg, car seats, strollers, infant carriers, swings) for routine sleep.
- Share Your Room, but Avoid Bed-Sharing
Room-sharing without bed-sharing can decrease your infant’s risk for SIDS by ≤50%, and prevent suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment, which may occur when infants sleep in adult beds. Place the crib in close proximity to your bed to help with feeding, comforting, and monitoring your child.
- Remove All Soft Objects from the Crib
Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib to reduce the risk for SIDS, suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Remove all pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, and loose-fitting blankets and sheets, which may be hazardous to your infant’s sleeping environment.
- Create a Smoke-Free Environment
Mothers must avoid smoking during and after pregnancy, and others should not smoke near pregnant women or infants. Encourage your family to maintain smoke-free homes and cars, and to eliminate secondhand smoke around you and your child.
- Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Moon RY. SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics. 2011;128:e1341-e1367.