Articles and Advice
Back to Sleep
While older children can sleep comfortably and safely in a variety of positions,
infants can not. Carefully placing a sleeping infant on his or her back is an important
Infants who sleep on their backs at home and on either their sides or stomachs while
in child care are at a greater risk of SIDS.
Since 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that all healthy
infants be placed to sleep on their backs. Years of research determined that babies
had a greater chance of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when they
were placed to sleep on their stomachs. Since enacting and publicizing this recommendation,
incidence of infants placed to sleep on their backs has dramatically increased and,
at the same time, the death rate from SIDS has decreased by 50 percent.
In order to guarantee the safest possible environment for infants whether at home
or with a childcare provider, be sure to:
- Always place babies on their backs to sleep unless instructed by a physician.
- Remove from the crib all fluffy, loose bedding, such as decorative quilts, pillows,
or stuffed toys.
- Check regularly to insure each baby's face is uncovered during sleep.
- Insure that babies do not get too warm during sleep. Adjust clothing and blankets
as required to reduce overheating.
- Give babies plenty of 'tummy time' when awake to insure healthy development.
Other considerations include:
- Infants who sleep on their backs at home and on either their sides or stomachs while
in child care are at a greater risk of SIDS. Therefore, it is especially important
that caregivers place babies to sleep on their backs.
- There is no evidence that healthy babies placed on their backs to sleep are more
likely to have serious or fatal choking episodes than those placed on their stomachs.
In fact, of the very small number of infant deaths due to choking, most of the infants
were sleeping on their stomachs.
- Baby's preferences for sleep position are learned from birth to around 4 - 6 months
of age. Therefore, consistently placing infants on their backs to sleep actually
helps them learn to be comfortable in this safe position.
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