Attention CHOP clinicians: patient education should be printed and assigned via EPIC's Teaching Library.
Health Encyclopedia
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings

Safe Sleep for Your Baby

SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. Although SIDS can't always be prevented, you — and everyone who cares for your baby — can do things to make it less likely.

KidsHealth Image

KidsHealth Image

Safe Sleep Places

  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back. An older baby may roll onto their side or belly and that's OK.

  • Make sure that all cribs and bassinets have a firm mattress and meet federal safety standards.

  • Never let your baby sleep on a pillow, waterbed, sheepskin, couch, chair, or other soft surface.

  • Never put a blanket, pillow, wedge, sleep positioner, bumper pads, or toys in the crib or bassinet.

  • If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, sling, or baby carrier, move them to the crib or bassinet as soon as possible.

  • Don't let your baby get too hot while sleeping. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Don't put a hat or too many clothes on your baby. Don't bundle them up or cover their head. If your baby shows signs of overheating, such as sweating, remove some of their clothing.

  • Keep the crib or bassinet in the room where you sleep for at least 6 months and, if possible, for your baby's first year. Never let your baby sleep in bed with you.

  • Do not fall asleep in bed or on a couch or chair while holding your baby.

What else can lower the risk of SIDS?

  • Breastfeed your baby or give them breast milk that you pumped, if possible.

  • Give your baby a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. Do not attach the pacifier to anything, such as a string, clothing, stuffed toy, or blanket. If the pacifier falls out or your baby doesn't want it, there's no need to put it back in. If your baby is breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before using a pacifier, usually about 3–4 weeks.

  • Don't smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby. If you or anyone in your household need help quitting, go to or call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).

  • Don't drink alcohol or use drugs.

  • Be sure your baby gets all recommended immunizations (shots).

KidsHealth Image

You have questions about keeping your baby safe during sleep.

KidsHealth Image

What causes SIDS? Although the exact cause of SIDS isn't known, it's likely due to a combination of reasons. The baby may be rebreathing air that doesn't have enough oxygen in it because it's blocked (for example, by a blanket or soft mattress or because they are sleeping on their belly). Most babies will wake up if they don't get enough oxygen. They might move their head or cry. But some babies don't wake up and they can't get the oxygen they need.

Are there any health risks to babies sleeping on their backs? No, it is safe for babies to sleep on their backs. Some parents worry that their baby will choke if they spit up while sleeping. But healthy babies who spit up while sleeping will naturally spit out or swallow any fluids that may come up.

Will my baby get a flat head from sleeping on their back? Some babies can get a flat spot on the head from sleeping on their back. But most babies who sleep on their back don't get a flat spot, and there are things you can do to prevent it and treat it if it does happen.

To help prevent a flat spot:

  • Give your baby plenty of tummy time while awake and someone is there watching.

  • Limit the time your baby spends in car seats and bouncy seats.

  • Gently change the direction of your baby's head when they are awake and sleeping so it isn't always turned the same way.

  • Change the side that you talk to, play with, feed, and change your baby from. This way they will move their head back and forth.

Powered by StayWell