Keeping children safe starting in their earliest moments in life should be everyone’s priority.  Newborns especially need parents and other adults to proactively ensure their safety, even while they are asleep.

While many parents are tempted to place their newborn in bed with them, there are significant risks associated with doing so.  Every year, infants die due to sleep-related incidents, which may include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines SIDS as the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted.  The cause of SIDS is unknown.  However, there are steps parents can take to greatly reduce an infant’s risk of SIDS.

In order to reduce the risk of harm, infants should be placed on their backs in a crib.  Infants should always be placed to sleep on their backs every time, even for naps.  Sleeping space should be free of blankets, stuffed animals, toys and all other items.  Even though pictures of your baby sleeping with your puppy might look great on Instagram, sleeping with family pets could also put your baby at risk for suffocation. Infants should not be left alone with pets, whether asleep or awake.

Tummy time is an important for an infant’s growth and development.  It improves neck and shoulder muscles, improves baby’s motor skills, and helps prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s head.  Tummy time should occur while the infant is awake and under close supervision.  Infants should not be placed on their tummy when asleep or outside of direct eyesight of a caregiver.

Parents should make sure that babysitters, grandparents, and other caregivers are also aware of safe sleep practices.  Infants are at greatest risk of sleep-related injury or death between 0-6 months of age.

For more information about newborn care, or parenting infants and young children, contact your installation New Parent Support Program.