Back to Sleep and Safe to Sleep
What you need to know to keep your baby safe while sleeping.
Tragedies can result from dangerous sleeping arrangements such as infants sleeping alone in unsafe surroundings and infants sleeping with their parents or other household members. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the New York State Department of Health encourages parents and caretakers of young children to follow these recommendations to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other injuries to young children.
- Always place infants on their backs to sleep. This will help the child breathe easier and may help prevent SIDS.
- Check to see that the bedding for your baby is safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a firm sleep surface in a child-safe crib that is free of soft objects or loose bedding that could entrap or smother the baby. Infants should not be put to sleep on waterbeds, sofas, chairs, or other unstable surfaces. Infants may suffocate if they become wedged between the cushions of a sofa, caught in the bed frame, or caught between the frame and the mattress or wall.
- Exercise caution regarding sleeping with infants, especially on small surfaces. A small sleeping area and the sharing of that space with one or more adults or siblings increases the risk of the infant becoming entrapped in bedding or smothered during the shifting that may occur during sleep.
- Consider the risks of sleeping with your baby if you've been using alcohol or drugs. A parent who chooses to bed share with an infant should not do so when using substances such as alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drug use may cause deeper sleep that can lead to decreased awareness of the infant and the sleeping environment, thus increasing the risk of overlay or entrapment. Parents on prescription medication are advised to observe warnings and follow directions for taking the medication to avoid co-sleeping mishaps. If parents have any questions about the effects of their prescription medication, they should contact their doctor.
- Take care if you're overtired. Overtiredness may cause parents to fall asleep while holding or breastfeeding their infant, only to have the baby slip beneath them or down into the chair or bed frame. The AAP says mothers who choose to breastfeed their infant in bed should take care regarding such risks. As an alternative to bed sharing, the AAP suggests that parents consider placing the infant’s crib near their bed to allow for more convenient breastfeeding and parent contact.
A Message for Service Providers
OCFS wishes to raise awareness among child welfare and family service providers and other professionals about the importance of educating parents about safe sleeping and of evaluating the safety of sleeping arrangements as part of an overall evaluation of home safety. Accordingly, OCFS recommends that service providers review with families both the risks associated with unsafe sleeping practices and the tips on safe sleeping provided above and in the companion brochure to help reduce the incidence of infant sleeping fatalities while promoting the safety and well being of all of New York's children.
Information provided by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services in conjunction with New York State Department of Health.