Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The causes of SIDS are not fully understood, and there is no cure. However, physicians advise that parents, family members, and caretakers take a number of specific steps to reduce the risk of infant death by SIDS.

General Tips for Reducing the Risk of SIDS

  • Infants who are breast-fed are less likely to die from SIDS, especially during the first six months of life
  • Do not smoke around your baby, or allow others to, as this could increase the risk of SIDS
  • Get regular medical checkups during pregnancy, and avoid tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs
  • Make sure your child spends time on his or her belly during waking hours, to strengthen the neck and back muscles

Sleeping Tips for Reducing the Risk of SIDS

Maintaining the right sleeping environment for your infant can reduce the risk of death by SIDS, especially since a child’s airway can become blocked unintentionally. Make sure to follow these steps:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back when they are sleeping (for short naps, or at night)
  • Have your baby sleep on a firm surface, covered by a fitted sheet
  • Don’t leave a sleeping baby with soft toys, loose bedding, crib bumpers, or other objects
  • Have infants sleep alone, and never in an adult bed, or on a couch/chair
  • Give an infant a dry pacifier (not attached to a string) when they are sleeping
  • Don’t assume that babysitters, family members, and other caretakers will know how to prepare a baby and their crib for sleeping, make sure they know what’s needed

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For easy-to-use charts and guides, click on the links below:

US Department of Health and Human Services “Safe To Sleep
PDF brochure

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
SIDS Prevention Sleep Brochure