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Close up of a baby sleeping on their back

Sleep Guidelines for Babies

Author: CHKD Medical Group
Published Date: Thursday, October 27, 2016

Follow these safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths during the first year of life.

Sleep-related infant deaths claim the lives of thousands of children each year in the United States. New evidence shows infants who sleep in the same room as their parents, but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, are as much as 50 percent less likely to suffer from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Experts say room-sharing would be best for the first year of life, but is most important for the first 6 months.

New evidence also reaffirms that soft bedding poses the risk of accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. Bed-sharing increases this risk.

Create a Safe Sleep Environment:

  • Place your baby on his back, alone, on a firm surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet at nap time and bedtime.
  • Never put baby down to sleep on a sofa, waterbed, adult bed or in a car seat, bouncer or swing.
  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of cribs and bassinets, no bumper pads, pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, soft toys or other soft objects.
  • Share a room with your baby, but not the same sleeping surface.
  • Do not smoke or let anyone smoke around you before or after your baby is born. Smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use around your baby put him at a greater risk of SIDS. 

Other Recommendations:

  • Allow pacifier use (without a string attached) at nap and bedtime. A pacifier should never be forced on a child and does not need to be reinserted once it falls out.
  • Avoid commercial products marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS, including wedges or positioners. None have been tested sufficiently to prove they are safe or effective.
  • Avoid overheating your baby. Infants should be lightly clothed for sleep. Bedroom temperature should be kept comfortable for an adult who is lightly clothed.
  • Breastfeed your baby for at least the first 6 months. Studies show that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS.

Watch | Dr. Suzanne Brixey, with General Booth Pediatrics, has these tips on infant sleep safety.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.