Safe Infant Sleep Information for Parents

As a parent or caregiver, you can take steps to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. When you put your baby "safe to sleep" for every sleep, you reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other causes of sleep-related infant death. The steps below help protect your baby in a variety of ways. Some make your baby less likely to suffocate accidentally during sleep. Others help your baby avoid infections or wake up more easily from sleep. In addition to preventing sudden death, most of these steps have extra health benefits for babies and their caregivers.

What You Should Do to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Do not let your baby sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else. Room sharing—keeping baby's sleep area in the same room where you sleep—reduces the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. If you bring your baby into your bed to breastfeed, make sure to put him or her back in a separate sleep area in your room, such as a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable play area, when you are finished.
  • Keep soft objects (including crib bumpers), toys, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area.
  • Get regular healthcare during pregnancy. more
  • Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born. Do not allow smoking around your baby.
  • Breastfeed your baby. more
  • Give your baby a dry pacifier that is not attached to a string for naps and at night. (If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until your baby is one month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.)
  • Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep.
  • Follow healthcare provider guidance on your baby's vaccines and regular health checkups.
  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
  • Do not use home heart or breathing monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Give your baby plenty of "tummy time" when he or she is awake and when someone is watching. Tummy time helps your baby's head, neck, and shoulder muscles get stronger and helps prevent flat spots on the head.
  • Spread the word. Tell grandparents, babysitters, child care providers, and other caregivers to always place your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, even for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS—so every sleep time counts.
  • Consider requesting a free, confidential home visit to ask questions and get help setting up a safe sleep environment. more
  • Spread the word! Share our Safe Sleep Awareness messages on social media and share your own safe sleep story with us! Check out our Safe Sleep Awareness Toolkit to learn more.

What We Do

  • Conduct free, confidential home visits for pregnant women and families with children up to age three. Home visitors can work with you to set up a safe sleep environment for your baby. more
  • Provide breastfeeding support for eligible women through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. more
  • Offer support to help people quit smoking.
  • Partner with healthcare providers, birthing hospitals, child care providers, social service providers, home visitors, and community-based organizations to promote safe infant sleep practices.
  • Convene a statewide team of experts to review all cases of child deaths and to identify ways to prevent similar deaths from occurring.

Meet Ellie and read her #SafeSleepStory

happy child

We were new parents and didn’t know what to expect. We had heard that the newborn stage can be challenging. We followed the “share a room, not a bed” guidance, keeping Ellie in her bassinet in our room for the first few months. When we transitioned her to a crib in her room, everyone’s sleeping improved dramatically. We did the best we could as first-time parents, and we were lucky to have the support of family and friends. Ellie is three now and thriving and sassy as ever. - Sidra, parent

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Meet A’Kirah and read her #SafeSleepStory

happy child

My child A'Kirah is now 4 years old, but when she was a baby I did my best to practice safe sleep. It wasn’t always easy; A'Kirah was colicky and we struggled with getting her to fall asleep and stay asleep without being held. I struggled with trying not to co-sleep. Our pediatrician suggested we swaddle her with a safe sleep swaddler. I found that using the safe sleep swaddler and putting her on her back, in her crib, and without any blankets worked! Not only was she finally able to fall asleep without being held, she slept safely for longer periods of time. - Tiffaine, parent

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Meet Jack and read his #SafeSleepStory

happy child

Jack had acid reflux as a baby and was up at night very often and always wanted to be held. I knew the importance of safe sleep, and knew I needed to stay awake when I was up with him in the middle of the night. So, I developed strategies to stay awake. This included texting with my mom friends in the middle of the night while I was breastfeeding, and leaning on my husband, who was always willing to do middle of the night diaper changes. I also caught up on my favorite shows and social media feed while breastfeeding at night. We did not bed share and always placed Jack to sleep on his back. - Ashley, parent

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Meet Aiden and read his #SafeSleepStory

happy child on slide

My child Aiden is now 3 years old. When he was born, he spent 59 days in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). The hospital taught us all the best sleep practices. We were so nervous to have him home, but we did our best to practice safe sleep. It wasn’t easy, but we always put him to sleep on his back and in his crib, and a great baby monitor helped us keep an eye on him while he slept. Aiden had reflux, and sometimes it was difficult for him to sleep, so we kept in touch with our pediatrician to make sure whatever we were doing aligned with Aiden sleeping safely. It was sometimes emotionally draining, but now Aiden has great sleep habits, which is helpful now that he has a little sister. - Laura, South Kingstown

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