Safe Sleep for Your Baby

Each year in the United States, thousands of babies die suddenly and unexpectedly. Some of these sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) result from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death, such as accidental suffocation.

Since the 1990s, when the U.S. back-sleeping recommendations were first released and public awareness efforts began, the overall U.S. SUID and SIDS rates have dropped.

But, even though SIDS rates have declined since the 1990s, rates of death from accidental suffocation/strangulation and unknown causes have begun to increase.  In addition, certain groups remain at higher risk for SUID than others.  For example, non-Hispanic African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander babies are at higher risk for SUID and SIDS than White, Hispanic, or Asian babies.

Safe Sleep Environment

To reduce the risk of SUID, SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death:

  • Always place baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.
  • Share your room with baby. Keep baby close to your bed, on a separate surface designed for infants.
  • Use a firm and flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib*, covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft items in the sleep area.

*A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. For information on crib safety, contact the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or

Other recommendations to reduce the risk of unexplained sudden death are:

  • Breastfeed your baby.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy or allow others to smoke around your baby.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs during pregnancy.
  • Avoid putting hats on your baby when indoors to avoid overheating.
  • Give your baby “tummy time” for short periods of time while awake and someone is watching them.
  • Make sure your baby receives routine immunizations.

Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows about these ways to reduce the risk of unexplained sudden death and other sleep-related infant deaths.

For more information: