Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that does not have a known cause even after a complete investigation.

Each year in the United States, thousands of babies die suddenly and unexpectedly. These deaths are called SUID which stands for “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.”

SUID includes all unexpected deaths: Those without a clear cause, such as SIDS and those from a known cause, such as suffocation. One-half of all SUID cases are SIDS. Many unexpected infant deaths are accidents, but a disease or something done on purpose can also cause a baby to die suddenly and unexpectedly.

Sleep-related causes of infant death are those linked to how or where a baby sleeps or slept. They are due to accidental causes, such as: Suffocation; entrapment, when baby gets trapped between two objects, such as a mattress and wall, and can’t breathe; or strangulation, when something presses on or wraps around baby’s neck, blocking baby’s airway. These deaths are not SIDS.

Babies sleep safest on their backs. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than are babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides.

Every sleep time counts. Babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times – for naps and at night. Babies who are used to sleeping on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs to sleep, like for a nap, are at very high risk of SIDS.

Sleep surface matters. Babies who sleep on a soft surface, such as an adult bed, or under a soft covering, such as a soft blanket or quilt, are more likely to die of SIDS of suffocation. Babies fall asleep in car seats, bounce seats, and other places but they should be moved to an appropriate sleeping surface as soon as possible.

Babies should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone or with anyone else. One of the additional dangers is the lack of adequate, fresh air for the infant to breathe. Their little faces must be free of obstacles including stuffies, pillows, crib bumpers, blankets and those nestling (suffocating) areas between an adult body and a comfy cushion.  

Smoking and second-hand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.

Breastfeeding and pacifiers not attached to a string can reduce the risk of SIDS.

Dress baby in light sleep clothing to avoid the baby getting too hot while sleeping.

Avoid using positioning devices, such as wedges. These products have not been tested for effectiveness in reducing the risk of SIDS.

Play Yards

Play yards are framed enclosures with a floor and mesh or fabric side panels. Most can be folded for storage or travel.

Play yards that meet the new safety standard must have:

  • Side rails that do not form a sharp V when the product is folded. This prevents a child from strangling in the side rail.
  • Stronger corner brackets to prevent sharp-edged cracks and to prevent a side-rail collapse.
  • Sturdier mattress attachments to the play yard floor to prevent children from getting trapped or hurt.

In addition to the play yard safety standard, CPSC has issued mandatory safety standards for cribs, children’s bed rails, baby bath seats, baby walkers, infant swings and toddlerbeds.

CPSC staff is currently working on safety standards for bedside sleepers, hand-held infant carriers,  bassinets, and bassinet attachments to play yards and will propose rules this year for strollers, soft infant carriers and infant slings.

If you use a play yard, keep it bare when you put your baby in it. Each year, CPSC receives reports of infant suffocation deaths. Some key causes of these deaths are the placement of pillows and thick quilts in a baby’s sleeping space and/or overcrowding in the space. Here’s more information on how to put your baby to sleep safely.

Young Child Ministries

For more detailed information and safety tips, be sure to download the attached brochures.

Safe Sleep for Your Baby: Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant DeathSyndrome (SIDS) and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death

This 12-page brochure (see file link below) is part of the Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly the Back to Sleep campaign), an effort to educate families and caregivers about reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. This brochure explains ways parents and caregivers can reduce the risks of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death and provide a safe sleep environment for infants.

Safe Sleep for My Grandbaby: Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant DeathSyndrome (SIDS)

This eight-panel brochure (see file link below) is part of the Back to Sleep campaign, an effort to educate families and caregivers about putting healthy babies on their backs to sleep, to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This eight-panel brochure explains ways that grandparents can help reduce the risks of SIDS and provide a safe sleep environment for infants in their care.

Christine Gillan Byrne,
Oct 9, 2012, 1:35 PM
Christine Gillan Byrne,
Oct 9, 2012, 1:36 PM