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Remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep

You always want to make sure your baby is safe. That includes during sleep time, when the lives of babies can be cut short by an unsafe environment.

In 2015, a total of 142 infants died from sleep-related causes across Tennessee. Those causes include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and accidental strangulation. The total marked a significant increase from 2014, when 99 infants died from sleep-related causes statewide.

Remember that most sleep-related infant deaths can be prevented. Simple actions can make a big difference.

October is SIDS Awareness Month. The Tennessee Department of Health’s Safe Sleep webpage is designed to help all parents and caregivers learn about SIDS and safe sleep practices for babies.

When it’s time for an infant to sleep, protect every child by following safe sleep guidelines known as the “ABCs of safe sleep”:

“A” is for Alone: Always let babies sleep alone. Sleeping with another person, or with objects in the crib, puts the infant at risk of being smothered.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents for at least six months. But they shouldn’t sleep together on a bed because it increases the risk of SIDS. The danger of “co-sleeping” is greatest for babies three months and younger. The risk of “co-sleeping” is much greater if the baby sleeps with a parent on a couch or an armchair instead of a bed.

“B” is for Back: An infant should always be placed to sleep on their back, not on their side or stomach. Do this for every sleep.

“C” is for Crib: Always put infants to sleep in a crib or bassinet with only a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet. Again, babies should never sleep on a couch, armchair or soft surface.

You can help decrease the risk of sleep-related death by following these additional tips:

  • Never place a baby to sleep on a pillow, quilt, sheepskin or other soft surface.
  • Keep loose objects such as soft toys and stuffed animals out of the crib. Keep all items away from the baby’s face.
  • Don’t use pillows and blankets in a baby’s sleeping area. They can lead to suffocation or sudden death. Unsafe bedding in the sleeping area is one of the highest risk factors for sleep-related infant deaths.
  • Don’t use crib bumpers. These don’t reduce injuries and can cause suffocation.
  • Keep infants from overheating during the night. A baby should be dressed lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy, and don’t expose your baby to secondhand smoke after birth. Secondhand smoke can be especially harmful to children because their lungs are still developing.
  • Breastfeed for at least the first six months of an infant’s life. Babies who breastfeed have a lower risk of SIDS. Learn more about breastfeeding. The Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline (1-855-4BFMOMS or 1-855-423-6667) is available 24/7 with information and support.
  • Be sure all those who are caring for the baby, including babysitters, childcare providers and grandparents, know about safe sleep practices.

Watch this video to learn more about the “ABCs of safe sleep” from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2016 recommendations for safe sleep for infants.

Studies indicate that most childhood injuries occur in the home. Get tips on childproofing your home.

Learn about requirements for child car seats for all ages.

Get tips for how to cope with a fussy infant.