Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Babies' Sleep Position and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Many studies have shown that placing a baby younger than 1 year old
to sleep on his or her back is the most important thing parents can do to
reduce the risk of
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Since 1992, the
number of babies who sleep on their back has gone up (due mostly to the
national "Back to Sleep" campaign), and there has been a steady drop in the
SIDS rate.footnote 1
Placing babies to sleep on their backs reduces the risk of SIDS. Side
sleeping was also recommended in the past, but it is much easier for babies to
roll to their stomachs from their sides than from their backs. Unless your
doctor advises otherwise, do not place your baby to sleep on his
or her side or stomach.
For the first 6 months, have your baby sleep in a crib, cradle, or bassinet in
the same room where you sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you don't ever sleep with your baby in the same bed, especially if you smoke or have used alcohol, illegal drugs, or medicine that
makes you sleep very soundly (sedatives).
with a baby on a couch or armchair.
And it is not safe to place your baby on a couch to sleep. It is not safe to place your baby in a car seat, sling, swing, bouncer, or stroller to sleep. The safest
place for a baby is in a crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets safety standards.
In rare cases, a doctor may recommend a different sleeping position
if your baby has certain health problems.
As babies mature, they learn to roll from their backs to their
stomachs. Babies who roll onto their stomachs during sleep do not need to be
continually shifted onto their backs. But always initially place them to
sleep on their backs.
When your baby is awake and someone is watching, allow your baby to
spend some time on his or her stomach ("tummy time"). This may be good for the
baby's development and may help prevent flat spots on the back part of the
Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (2011, reaffirmed 2014). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 128(5): e1341–e1367. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2285. Accessed April 7, 2015.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsSpecialist Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Current as ofMarch 11, 2016
Current as of:
March 11, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
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