Should I be worried about SIDS? How can I reduce my child’s risk?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants one month to one year of age, taking the lives of about 2,500 children each year in the United States. An additional 3,500 infants die each year from other causes of sudden and unexpected infant death (SUID), such as suffocation.

Although the rate of SIDS has decreased by more than 50 percent in the United States since the introduction of the Back to Sleep campaign, racial and economic disparities remain. African-Americans at all socioeconomic levels experience SIDS and SUID at two to three times the rate of the general population.

Facts about SIDS

  • More boy babies die from SIDS than girls.
  • African American babies have a 2-3 times greater risk of dying from SIDS as Caucasian babies.
  • Back sleeping is the safest sleep position for infants under 1 year of age.
  • About 75 percent of babies who die suddenly and unexpectedly die while they are sleeping in the same place (couch, armchair, bed) as another person.
  • SIDS is not the same as suffocation, but both can happen when the baby is asleep.

Reducing the Risk

Follow these tips to create a safe sleep environment and help reduce the risk of SIDS for infants.


  • Babies should always sleep on their backs.
  • Place baby on his/her back to sleep at night time and naptime.
  • Babies shouldn’t sleep on their side. They may roll to face down position.


  • Every baby should sleep in his/her own crib.
  • Place baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib.
  • Remove all fluffy and loose bedding from the sleep area. The only thing that should be in the crib is the baby.
  • Make sure baby’s head and face stay uncovered during sleep.
  • Use blanket sleepers instead of blankets during colder months.

Room sharing

  • Babies from birth to age 6 months should sleep in the same room with their parents.
  • Babies should not sleep on the same sleep surface with their parents.
  • Bring the baby into your bed for cuddling and feeding, but return the baby to his/her crib when you are ready to go back to sleep.

Other tips

  • Don’t let baby get too warm during sleep. A general rule is that babies need one more layer than you do.
  • Use pacifiers at naptime and bedtime during the first year, but not during the first month for breast-fed babies.
  • Breastfeeding is best!
  • Make sure your baby gets all the recommended vaccinations.

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