The American Association of Pediatrics has issued the following guidelines to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexpected infant death (SUID):

  • Position the infant on his back every time he sleeps up until age 1 year for every sleep. However, if the baby rolls on his/her side on his own, he can be left in that position if he can roll from back to tummy and tummy to back. If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier or infant sling, he should be moved to a firm sleep surface as soon as possible.
  • Place the infant on a firm crib mattress that's covered by a sheet. Be sure that there are no gaps between the mattress and the crib.
  • Keep soft objects (such as pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and stuffed toys) out of the infant's sleeping environment. In addition, bumper pads and positioning devices aren't recommended. No pillows, no fluffy quilts, or stuffed animals until at least age 1.
  • Place the infant to sleep in an area free from hazards, such as window covering cords and electric wires, because they may pose a risk of strangulation.
  • Protect the infant from exposure to secondhand smoke. Research shows that alcohol and illicit drug use by caregivers greatly increase the risk of SUID.
  • Don't share a bed with the infant; instead, position the crib or bassinet in close proximity to your bed to enable more convenient breast-feeding and contact. Return the infant to his crib or bassinet when you're ready to sleep.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime (after breast-feeding is firmly established); don't reinsert it after the infant falls asleep. If the infant refuses the pacifier, don't force him to take it and don't coat the pacifier in a sweet solution. Clean the pacifier often and replace it regularly.
  • Lightly clothe the infant for sleep and keep the room at a temperature that's comfortable for a lightly clothed adult to avoid overheating, which studies have shown increases the risk of SIDS. Avoid covering the infant's head while he sleeps.
  • Breast feed your baby as long as you can.

Avoid using commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS, because these devices haven't undergone adequate testing for safety or effectiveness.

Source: A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics, Revised 4/2012)
1.American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (2011). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment.
2.Wilkinson, J., et al. (2013). "Preventive services for children and adolescents"