Child Safety while Sleeping

It’s hard to imagine that being close to your baby can be a danger. But when it comes to sleep, babies need room to breathe. Placing your baby in a safe, empty crib can minimize the risk of serious harm. No place is completely free from risk, but using a safe crib can reduce those risks.

What are the dangers of sleeping with my baby?

Experts agree that sharing a bed, couch or chair to sleep with your baby can be risky. For example, sleeping with your child can increase the chances that:

  • You could roll onto and suffocate your baby
  • Your baby could roll off the bed and get hurt
  • Your baby could be trapped in a headboard, footboard or railings
  • Your baby could be trapped between the bed and wall, or between the bed and another object

Safe sleeping helps prevent accidental infant deaths – and the safest place is in a safety-approved crib.1

What should I do?

Your baby’s safety should be your first priority. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do use a safety approved crib to place your baby to sleep
  • Do put your baby on his/her back.
  • Do place your baby on a firm mattress (unless your doctor tells you otherwise).
  • Do check corner hooks regularly underneath the crib to be sure the mattress is secure
  • Do use a thin blanket to keep your baby warm, or dress your baby in a sleeper.
  • Do tuck the blanket around the crib’s mattress and pull it up only as far as the baby’s chest.
  • Do keep the room warm enough that you or any adult can wear light clothing.
  • Do place your baby on his/her stomach while awake and while you are there to watch him or her.
  • Some experts also suggest placing your baby’s feet at the foot of the crib when you put him or her down to sleep. This can keep a blanket from covering the baby’s face.

What shouldn’t I do?

  • Do not put your child to sleep on a couch, recliner, cushion or pillow.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep on his/her stomach. It can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Do not put any soft bedding under a sleeping baby.
  • Do not place your baby in an adult bed alone or with other children or pets.
  • Do not sleep with your baby if you are overtired.
  • Do not sleep with your baby if you have been drinking or if you have used drugs (including illegal and prescription drugs).
  • Do not smoke around your baby. Babies exposed to smoke are harder to wake up. Smoking also increases the risk of SIDS when infants share a bed with mothers who smoke.

1Protecting America’s Infants, Safe Sleep Practices and the Hazards of the Adult Bed, (Sids Alliance).

This information was developed by the Hamilton County Department of Job & Family Services.

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