Tucking Your Baby in Safely

Sleep is vital to your baby’s health and development. And how you put your baby to sleep can be just as important.

Experts now agree that putting your baby to sleep on her back is the safest position. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made the "back-to-sleep" recommendation in 1992, the SIDS rate has dropped more than 50 percent. Research has found a link between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and babies who sleep on their stomachs. Side-sleeping also has a higher risk for SIDS than back sleeping. When infants are put to sleep on their stomachs and they also sleep on soft bedding, the risk for SIDS is even higher.

While babies should sleep on their backs, other positions can be used during the time babies are awake. Babies can be placed on their stomachs while awake to help develop muscles and eyes and to help prevent flattened areas on the back of the head.

Know Your Bedding

Some reports have found soft surfaces, loose bedding, and overheating with too many blankets also increase the risk for SIDS. As a result, a taskforce of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), have put together the following recommendations for infant bedding:

  • Place your baby on his/her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety standards.

  • Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products from the crib. Also remove any soft, pillow-like crib bumpers.

  • Consider using a sleeper as an alternative to blankets with no other covering.

  • If using a blanket, put your baby with his/her feet at the foot of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, only as far as the baby's chest.

  • Make sure your baby's head remains uncovered during sleep.

  • Do not place your baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep.

  • Offer your baby a clean, dry pacifier at sleep times, but don't force the baby to take it. Some studies have shown a lower rate of SIDS among babies who use pacifiers. (Breastfeeding mothers should wait until the baby is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before offering a pacifier.)

  • To prevent overheating, the report recommends that the infant should be lightly clothed for sleep and the room temperature kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Avoid over bundling and check the baby's skin to make sure it is not hot to the touch.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Jovino, DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/6/2010

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