Sep 15th, 2022

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US infants each year. That includes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ill-defined deaths, and accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed.

Because sleep-related infant death is the leading cause of infant mortality from one month to one year of age, it is important to know how to create the safest sleeping environment for your little ones.

ABCs of Safe Sleep

The AAP recommends a safe sleep environment to reduce the risk of all sleep-related deaths. You can help babies sleep safely by:

  • Always placing your baby on their back to sleep for all sleep times, including naps. Even if a baby spits up during sleep, their anatomy and gag reflex help prevent them from choking while sleeping on their backs.
  • Using a firm and flat sleep surface. Options include surfaces such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable play area, covered only by a fitted sheet. Soft or inclined surfaces can increase the risk of sleep-related death.
  • Keeping your baby's sleep area in the same room where you sleep (until your baby is at least 6 months old). Do not share your bed with your baby. Instead, place their crib or bassinet near your bed. Room sharing (without bed sharing) can lower the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.
  • Avoiding soft bedding and overheating. Keep soft bedding, such as blankets and pillows, out of your baby’s sleep area and dress your baby in one layer only, such as a one-piece sleeper or wearable blanket. One report found that infant suffocation deaths during sleep were most frequently due to soft bedding.

Additional AAP recommendations for SIDS risk reduction include breastfeeding; avoiding exposure to nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and illicit drugs; routine immunizations; and using a pacifier. For a summary of AAP's full safe sleep guidance, click here.

May they all sleep safe and sound.

To support safe sleep for all babies in our community, the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center participates in the Safe Cribs for Missouri program. It provides portable cribs and safe sleep education to low-income families who have no other resources for obtaining a crib.

The program is administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and is available at the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center. Its goal and our wish is to support families and reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths.

Safe Cribs

The Safe Cribs program is a valuable resource for those who meet the following criteria:

  • You're a MO resident (from 35 weeks in pregnancy to three months post-delivery)
  • You're eligible for WIC, Medicaid, or fall at or below 185% of the federal poverty level
  • You have no crib and no other resources for obtaining one
  • You agree to participate in two individual safe sleep education sessions

To enroll, please contact us.

Source: CDC, AAP, DESE