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Safe sleep information for parents and caregivers

Learn how to protect your baby.

Follow these tips:

Always put babies on their back to sleep for naps and at night.
  • When you lay your baby on his back, your baby’s breathing tube is on top of their swallowing tube. If your baby spits up, this makes it easier for the spit-up to go safely back down their swallowing tube.
  • If you lay your baby on their stomach, their breathing tube is below the swallowing tube. This actually makes it easier for spit-up to go into their breathing tube and possibly into their lungs.
Keep babies near, but in their own crib:
  • New parents often want to be close to their babies at night, but sharing a bed may put your baby at risk for suffocation — from someone rolling over on them, or from pillows and blankets.
  • Taking medications that cause drowsiness, drinking alcohol and taking marijuana and other drugs can affect your sleep, and put your baby at even more risk
  • Let your baby sleep in their own crib but keep the crib close enough to know when your baby needs you. If you are breastfeeding, sleeping near your baby’s crib makes it easy for you to feed your baby when they’re hungry and helps you build a good milk supply.
Don’t let baby sleep or nap in the same bed with anyone else
  • You should not let your baby sleep in the same bed with multiple bed-sharers including siblings and/or pets. Another person, no matter how small, could roll over and smother the baby.
Use firm mattress and a tight-fitting sheet in your baby’s crib.
  • Fluffy pillows, quilts, and toys are not safe for sleep, but you can use a blanket if you tuck it in snugly under the crib mattress, no higher than your baby’s chest. You can also just dress your baby in warm pajamas or a sleep sack, and put your baby to sleep without a blanket.
Don’t put toys, blankets, pillows, or bumper pads in the crib.
  • These things could make it hard for your baby to breathe. Young babies can’t move around enough to hurt themselves, and the slats on their crib should be close enough together to prevent their head from getting stuck. If you have an older crib, visit the Consumer Product Safety Council to make sure crib meets current safety standards. If your baby is sleeping in a used crib, make sure it meets current safety standards. To find out if the crib is approved for infants, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission toll free at: (800) 638-2772 or visit their Check Your Crib for Safety video.
Don’t let your baby sleep on the couch or in an armchair.
  • Your baby could get stuck between cushions or pillows and suffocate.
Never smoke around babies.
  • Keep your baby’s sleeping area and the home smoke-free. Second and third-hand smoking are also risk factors for the baby.
Breastfeed babies.
  • Breastfeeding has shown to have many health benefits for babies, and has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. But even breastfeeding moms should keep baby in their own crib.
Keep babies cool.
  • Don’t overheat your baby or his/her room.
Give your baby plenty of time on their stomach when your baby is awake and an adult is watching.
  • This will help your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles get stronger.

The Infant Safe Sleep program in the Division of Violence Injury Prevention strives to educate parents, caregivers, and providers about how to ensure babies (up to 1 year of age) have a safe and secure environment to sleep in.

For more information, please send your inquiries to SafeSleep@State.MA.US or visit the Safe To Sleep Website.

To request infant safe sleep door knob hangers and download the infant safe sleep flyer, visit the MA Health Promotion Clearinghouse.

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