Safe Sleep

As a parent or caregiver, you can take steps to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. When you put your baby "safe to sleep" for every sleep, you reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other causes of sleep-related infant death. The steps below help protect your baby in a variety of ways. Some make your baby less likely to suffocate accidentally during sleep. Others help your baby avoid infections or wake up more easily from sleep. In addition to preventing sudden death, most of these steps have extra health benefits for babies and their caregivers.

What You Should Do to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Do not let your baby sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else. Room sharing—keeping baby's sleep area in the same room where you sleep—reduces the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. If you bring your baby into your bed to breastfeed, make sure to put him or her back in a separate sleep area in your room, such as a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable play area, when you are finished.
  • Keep soft objects (including crib bumpers), toys, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area.
  • Get regular healthcare during pregnancy. 
  • Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born. Do not allow smoking around your baby.
  • Breastfeed your baby. 
  • Give your baby a dry pacifier that is not attached to a string for naps and at night. (If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until your baby is one month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.)
  • Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep.
  • Follow healthcare provider guidance on your baby's vaccines and regular health checkups.
  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
  • Do not use home heart or breathing monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Give your baby plenty of "tummy time" when he or she is awake and when someone is watching. Tummy time helps your baby's head, neck, and shoulder muscles get stronger and helps prevent flat spots on the head.
  • Spread the word. Tell grandparents, babysitters, childcare providers, and other caregivers to always place your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, even for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS—so every sleep time counts.
  • Consider requesting a free, confidential home visit to ask questions and get help setting up a safe sleep environment. 

For the most up to date guidance regarding safe sleep practices, please visit the RI Department of Health’s Web page: here.