• Safe sleep to protect against SIDS

baby girl asleep on her back in a crib
The American Academy of Pediatrics says infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents or caregivers, for at least six months, to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths. However, the new policy also states the infant should sleep on a separate surface, a crib or bassinet, and not on a couch or soft surface. "SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment," will be published in the November 2016 issue of Pediatrics.

*This information is credited to the AAP news release.

Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); ill-defined deaths; and accidental suffocation and strangulation. The number of infant deaths initially decreased in the 1990s after a national safe sleep campaign, but has plateaued in recent years.

Dr. David Soma, with the Mayo Clinic Children's Center, says, "It's not entirely clear why some evidence would support that staying in the same room as parents, but not in the same bed, would be potentially protective. This could be a marker for some other factor or something not fully understood but there is some data to support this practice." He added that more investigations may needed but ultimately, "the message remains the same to my patients in that we need to minimize risk while optimizing sleep for parents and children."

AAP recommendations on creating a safe sleep environment include:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Other recommendations include:

  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices, including wedges or positioners, marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development.

Mayo Clinic News Network report: Safe Sleeping Space for Babies.

Learn more about Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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