Family and Friends Health Care

The ABCs of Infant Sleep Safety

Baby sleeping in crib

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

Whether you’re an expecting parent, a brand-new parent, a grandparent or a caregiver, knowing the ABCs of sleep safety for your newest family member is an important foundation for your little one’s well-being.

Sleep can be a challenge for the whole family as you adjust to a new routine when you bring your baby home. With so much to remember when it comes to taking care of your little one, we’re here to break down the ABCs of infant sleep safety for you. Parents and caregivers can rest a little easier knowing that their newborns are safe and sound as they sleep.

What Are the ABCs of Sleep Safety for Babies?

The ABCs of infant sleep safety are:

A: Alone

B: Back

C: Crib

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

A is for Alone

Babies should sleep alone, in their own sleep space with no other people. Room-sharing is recommended, but bedsharing is not. Keep pillows, blankets, toys, stuffed animals, hats, hair bows and all other soft items out of their sleep space. This is for their safety so they are not accidentally smothered by a stray item or another person while they sleep.

Room-sharing without bedsharing reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by as much as 50%. You’ll still be close to your baby without the risk of accidental smothering.

B is for Back

“Back is best.” Your baby should be positioned for sleep flat on their back, never on the tummy or side. This is the most important and effective strategy for preventing SIDS.

Around three months of age, your baby may begin to learn how to roll from back to tummy and tummy to back. When your little one can roll over both ways independently, it’s OK to leave your child on their tummy if they roll over while sleeping, but always place them on their back initially. When your baby can roll, you should no longer swaddle them so they can maneuver safely.

C is for Crib

Use a crib, bassinet or portable play yard with a flat, firm mattress and a fitted sheet. The crib shouldn’t have any bumpers, and nothing should be attached to it that can fall in with your baby (like mobiles and monitors). Babies can sleep in a swaddle (wrapped no higher than their shoulders) until they can roll over, and can use a sleep sack with their arms out after that.

Avoid letting the baby sleep on a couch or armchair, or in another device like a swing or bouncer. Falling asleep in a car seat is OK, but only while riding in the car. Gently remove your baby from the car seat and place him safely in his crib once you arrive home.

How to Make a Safe Sleep Environment and Reduce SIDS Risk

Here are some tips on how to create a safe sleep environment and reduce the risk of SIDS for your little one:

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep for naps and at night
  • Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby
  • Don’t let your baby get too hot during sleep
  • Don’t put pillows, blankets, sheepskin, crib bumpers or toys in your baby’s sleep area
  • Don’t smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby
  • Don’t use bouncy seats, swings, infant carriers or strollers for routine sleep
  • Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket
  • Give your baby a pacifier that isn’t attached to a string for naps and nighttime sleep
  • Follow your health care provider’s guidance on your baby’s vaccines and regular health checkups
  • Keep your baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep
  • Make sure nothing covers your baby’s head
  • Place your baby in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable crib for sleep
  • Use a firm and flat sleep surface covered by a fitted sheet
  • Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair alone, with you or with anyone else.

Building Blocks for Safe Sleep

Now that you know the ABCs for your baby to sleep safely, make sure that anyone who may care for your baby knows and practices these rules as well. They are important building blocks to a happy, healthy and safe start for your little one. To discuss any specific sleep questions, consult your pediatrician.

For more educational resources on safe sleep, visit CribsforKids.org.

Recent Blogs

A Doctor Speaks to Her Patient in an Exam Room While Going Over His Charts on a Laptop.
Blog
How Robotic Surgery Is Helping Hernia Patients Recover Faster
A female physician talking to a grey-haired gentleman with her tablet
Blog
4 Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Blog
How Drinking Water Helps With Acne
A young adult walking his dog on a sunny day
Blog
9 Ways a Morning Walk Can Boost Your Body, Mind and Spirit
Blog
A Lighter and Brighter Season: Heart-Healthy Holiday Recipe Alternatives
View More Articles