Making Sure Your Baby Sleeps Safely

Sleep tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Baby-resting-on-mother

Following the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on safe sleeping environments for your infant will help keep your baby safe and give you peace of mind.

Safe sleeping guidelines

  • Place your baby on his or her back every time they sleep. Babies up to 1 years old should always be on their backs when sleeping or napping to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, once infants are rolling over (usually around 4 to 6 months), they can be left in the sleep position they assume. If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing or carrier your baby should be moved to a firm sleep surface.
  • Use a firm sleep surface (crib, bassinet or crib/play yard). The sleep surface should conform to current safety standards. Make sure that the items are not on recall lists and do not have broken or missing parts.
  • Keep pillows, cushions, quilts, comforters or sheepskins — even if covered by a sheet — away from your sleeping infant. Bumper pads for cribs should also not be used. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and they can increase the risk for suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.
  • Room-sharing is recommended, but bed-sharing is not recommended. There is evidence that room-sharing can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. Bed-sharing with the infant in the parents’ bed, however, is not recommended due to risks of suffocation, strangulation and entrapment with the infant in the adult bed. Co-sleepers are also not recommended and do not make bed-sharing safe. Infants may be brought into the parental bed for feeding, but should be returned to their cribs or bassinets when the parent is ready to return to sleep.
  • Keep smoke and smokers away from babies.
  • Consider using a pacifier at nap or bedtime. Although the reasons are unclear, studies indicate that pacifiers help reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out of the infant’s mouth. There is no need to force a baby to use a pacifier if they do not like it, and generally with breastfed babies, we recommend waiting until after 3 to 4 weeks of age to introduce a pacifier. Pacifiers should not be attached to the baby with a cord or hung around the neck when babies are sleeping.
  • Do not let your baby overheat. Generally about one layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable is a good rule of thumb.
  • Remember to give baby tummy time when she or he is awake. This will help strengthen neck muscles and avoid flat spots on the head. Always stay with your baby during tummy time and make sure he or she does not fall asleep.


This Scripps Health and Wellness information was provided by Scripps Coastal Medical Center Pediatrics in Encinitas.