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A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep

Questions and answers about your baby and safe sleep.

We have gathered answers to commonly-asked questions about safe sleep, as well as some resources to help you get off to a restful start together.

Where is the safest place for my baby to sleep?

Babies sleep safest on their backs, with nothing but the baby in the crib in your smoke-free room.

Why should my baby sleep on his back?

Your baby's lungs are not fully developed yet. When babies sleep on their stomachs, they re-breathe their own air. This causes babies to breathe carbon dioxide, which slows breathing until it eventually stops.

Why shouldn't I put anything extra in my baby's crib?

If your baby's face were to be covered by an object in his crib such as a blanket, toy or bumper pad, he could have difficulty breathing. it's safer and easier to keep nothing but the baby in the crib.

If my baby is on her back, is she more likely to choke?

Babies who sleep on their backs are no more likely to choke than babies who sleep on their stomachs. In fact, research shows that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to choke.

How do I prevent my baby from getting a flat head from sleeping on his back?

Alternate which way your baby's head faces each time you put your baby in his crib to sleep. Limit the amount of time your baby spends lying on his back. While he is awake, give him plenty of safe tummy time on the floor and cuddle time in your arms. Make sure he doesn't spend all of his time in a car seat, stroller or bouncy seat.

How do babies become overheated, and why is it a problem?

Your baby can overheat from too many blankets and being over-bundled. He should not feel hot or sweaty while sleeping. When sleeping babies become too warm, they have an increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Why is it safest for my baby to sleep in my room, but not in my bed?

Accoridng to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), having a baby sleep in the same bed with another person increases the risk of SIDS, suffocation and rollover. The AAP recommends that your baby sleep in your room, in a crib near your bed, for the first six months of life. This will make it easier for you to respond to your baby's needs and bond with your baby.

Why shouldn't my baby sleep on a soft surface?

The AAP recommends that your baby not sleep on soft surfaces such as pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, soft mattresses, waterbeds, couches, and oversized chairs. If your baby's face were to be covered by one of these surfaces, he could suffocate.

Does a pacifier help my baby at sleep time?

Sudies indicated a protective effect of breastfeeding and the use of a pacifier to reduce baby's risk for SIDS. If you plan to breastfeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pacifier use by your baby after breastfeeding is established. Offer a pacifier at sleep time.

Is is okay to breastfeed my baby in my bed?

It is safe for you to breastfeed anywhere that you are comfortable, but it is not safe if you and your baby fall asleep after breastfeeding in an adult bed or any soft sleep surface. If your choose to breastfeed in bed, be sure to put your baby back in his crib.

Will cigarette smoke in my house pose a risk to my baby?

Smoke travels throughout the room in the house, increasing a baby's risk for SIDS. Smoke also clings to clothes, and your baby can ingest the toxins.

Why is cigarette smoke so unsafe for my baby?

The toxins in cigarette smoke increase your baby's risk for SIDS, respiratory infection, ear infections and asthma. In addition, smoke during pregnancy increases a baby's risk for SIDS, prematurity and low birth weight.

What makes a crib safe?

According to the National Safety Council, the space between the crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches, or about the width of a pop can. This will prevent your baby from getting her stuck between the slats. The mattress should be firm with a tightly fitted crib sheet.

Who needs to know safe sleep tips for my baby?

Everyone who takes care of babies needs to know how to put them to sleep safely. This includes the babysitter, family members, child care staff and anyone else who may put your baby to sleep.
Always talk to your health care provider about safe sleep tips.

What is the extra danger if babies who are "back-sleepers" are put to sleep on their tummies?

If babies who are used to sleeping on their backs are placed to sleep on their tummies, they can be 6 to 9 times more likely to die from SIDS.


This information is provided by Baby Blossoms, partnering to prevent infant mortality. Supported by Douglas County Health Department.


Additional Information about Safe Sleep