Onsite Blog

What does “Safe Sleep” mean?

When placing your child to sleep, caregivers need to practice safe sleeping methods. Safe sleep means putting your baby to bed in a way that prevents choking, suffocation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In honor of October being safe sleep month, Onsite’s Dr. Brittany Reid shares more about how families can practice safe sleeping habits. 

Look at the pictures below – Which one seems like a safe sleep environment for an infant? 

The correct answer is none of the above. What’s wrong with each of these pictures? Let’s review the ABCs of safe sleep. 

“A” for Alone: Nothing else should be in the crib with the infant  

The first picture shows a baby with multiple other items in the crib. There are stuff animals, a crib bumper on the side of the crib, and a loose blanket draped over the baby. With these things present, this baby is not in a safe sleep environment. Anything extra in the crib increases the risk of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)Swaddling is acceptable, but it should be done correctly and in a safe manner.  

“B” for Back: Babies should be placed in the crib on their back for sleep 

The second picture shows a baby, who appears to be alone in his sleep environment, but has been placed on his side. Sideline and stomach sleeping are NOT safe sleeping positions for infants because the risk of SIDS increases significantly compared to infants sleeping on their backs. Once an infant can roll over independently, parents do not need to turn their babies on their back. However, babies should still always be placed on their backs initially. 

“C” for Crib: Babies should be placed in a crib for sleep 

The last picture shows a baby sleeping next to an adult on a regular bed. There are two safe sleep offenses in this picture. One – the baby is NOT alone since an adult is on the same sleep surface. Two – the baby is NOT in a crib. Babies need a different surface with a firm mattress for sleeping. Fluffy or plush mattresses are dangerous and can cause suffocation if the infant’s nose/mouth becomes blocked. The ideal sleep environment should have a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet in a separate crib or bassinette. Additionally, co-sleeping is very dangerous. During sleep, adults or larger children are unaware and can roll over onto the baby, causing injury and suffocation, potentially leading to death. Parents should room-share (e.g., sleep in the same room as their baby) but NOT bedshare.  

Newborns and infants are a vulnerable population, and practicing safe sleep is just one way to reduce their risk for harm or death. There is a lot of merchandise marketed as “safe sleep,” but there is often no data to verify their safety. The use of these devices is risky. Please consult your child’s pediatrician if there is any question about whether something is safe. And remember your ABCs! 😊 

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