In the United States, the leading cause of death for infants 1 month to 1 year is Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). This includes sleep related deaths such as accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
There are about 3,400 sleep related deaths among US infants each year . Infant deaths from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed have been increasing due to unsafe sleeping practices . In Orange County from 2010-2021, 104 babies died with SUID .
You can drastically reduce the risk by following the ABCs of safe sleep. Babies should sleep:
- On their back
- In a crib, bassinet or pack n’ play with no pillows, blankets or toys
Other recommendations to reduce the risk of SUID/SIDS are:
- Use a firm and flat sleep surface such as a mattress covered by a fitted sheet in a safety approved crib or bassinet.
- Do not put any other bedding or soft items in the sleep area.
- Share your room, but NOT your bed, with your baby. Keep the baby’s bassinet or crib in your bedroom for at least the first 6 months.
- If the baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing or infant carrier, move them to their crib or bassinet as soon as you can.
- Don’t let babies sleep on a couch, armchair or nursing pillow – it’s dangerous.
- Breastfeed your baby.
- Consider offering a pacifier, with nothing attached, at nap time and bedtime.
- 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.
- Don’t smoke in the home or allow others to smoke around your baby.
For more information, see:
- Orange County Health Care Agency: Safe Sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- California Department of Public Health: Safe Sleep for Babies, English | Spanish
- HealthyChildren.org: How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy Explained, English | Spanish
- National Institutes of Health Safe to Sleep®: Benefits of Tummy Time, English | Spanish
- American Academy of Pediatrics: SUID and Safe Sleep Overview
- First Candle: Bereavement Support
- www.cdc.gov/sids/data.htm (9/30/2023)
- Data source: California Comprehensive Death File. Population source: CA Dept of Finance, P-3 estimates. 2022 estimate downloaded 8/6/2023. 2021 and prior estimates from Conditions of Children supplemental tables. Orange County Health Care Agency.