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Safe Sleep for Babies

baby laying in crib, sleeping safely

Cold Weather Infant Safe Sleeping Tips:

  1. Never share your bed or other sleep surface with baby for warmth. Remember the ABC's of Safe Sleep: Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib, play yard, or bassinet.
  2. Resist the urge to crank up heating. Babies can't regulate their body temperature in the same way adults can so it's easy for them to get too hot, increasing the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  3. Never put a hat on baby indoors, even when it's cold. A bare head is important for maintaining body temperature and releasing heat.

About the NYC Infant Safe Sleep Initiative

Every year, between 40 and 50 babies in New York City die from a preventable, sleep-related injury. Black families are twice as likely to have their baby die before their first birthday than white families and infants living in the Bronx and Brooklyn die at higher rates than other boroughs in the first year of life.

The NYC Infant Safe Sleep Initiative aims to prevent sleep-related infant injury deaths and address long-standing disparities to promote and protect the health and well-being of our youngest and most vulnerable New Yorkers. The Initiative's primary prevention focus, collaborations and partnerships aim to achieve equity in infant survival and close the black/white infant mortality gap by empowering communities with the highest rates of sleep-related infant injury deaths.

The ACS Safe Sleep Unit in the Division of Child and Family Well-Being provides free education and resources to help parents and caregivers of babies, child welfare professionals, clinicians, and advocates understand the risks and avoid preventable sleep-related infant fatalities. Our citywide public awareness campaigns, outreach activities, and free training, information and resources educate New Yorkers about potentially fatal practices like bed-sharing or stomach sleeping to ensure all children have a healthy, safe start in life and no family suffers the devastating loss of a child during sleep.

Please view the resources below for information regarding our free training offerings and how to request training for your group or organization:

What is a Sleep-Related Injury Death?

A sleep-related injury death is the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year old that occurs because of where and/or how they were placed to sleep. Sleep-related infant injury death is not the same as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or "crib death." SIDS is the natural death of a baby that cannot be explained after a careful medical review of the case. Unlike SIDS, sleep-related infant injury deaths involve accidents that can be explained and are mostly preventable.

Creating a Safe Sleep Environment

Here are the most recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), issued in October 2016, for where and how to safely place your baby to sleep:

Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep.

  • Until their first birthday – for naps and at night. Babies breathe better on their backs than on their stomachs or sides. Sleeping on their backs opens up their chests and makes it easier for them to draw in more oxygen to their brains. Babies who sleep on their sides can more easily roll onto their stomach, making it harder for them to breathe and increasing their risk of suffocation. Babies are also MORE likely to choke, if they spit up, when placed on their stomach.

Avoid sharing a bed with your baby.

  • Your baby should never sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair with you or anyone else (e.g., other children or pets). Babies may suffocate if another person accidently rolls on top of them or covers their nose and mouth.
  • Keep your baby's sleep area near your bed for the first 6 to 12 months. Place your baby's crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard next to your bed. This is called room sharing and will make it easier for you to feed, comfort and watch your baby without increasing the risk of sleep-related injury death.
  • If you bring your baby into bed with you to feed or comfort them, make sure you put them back in their bed before you fall asleep. Placing your baby's crib next to your bed can help make this easier. If you fall asleep in bed with your baby while feeding or comforting them, place them back to sleep in their own crib as soon as you wake up.

Use a firm sleep surface with a fitted sheet made for that specific product.

  • A crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard that meets safety standards is recommended. Babies should be placed on a flat surface for all sleep times. Though it might seem more comfortable to put a pillow on top of the mattress, babies may suffocate on the soft surface.
  • Do not use a car seat, carrier, swing, bouncer or similar product as a sleep area.
  • Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa or chair. These surfaces are not designed for a baby to sleep on and are very dangerous. A baby can get easily trapped between cushions, people or other objects that can cause him or her to suffocate.

Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any other items that could increase the risk of suffocation out of the baby's sleep area.

  • Loose and soft bedding can be very dangerous to a baby. Do not place pillows, blankets, toys, or bumper pads anywhere in your baby's sleep area. If one of those things gets on the baby's face, he may not be able to move his face away and can suffocate.

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Watch Breath of Life, a Safe Sleep Video:

Aliento De Vida: Por Qué El Sueño Seguro Es Importante Y Cómo Practicar El Sueño Seguro

Watch Breath of Life by Subject:

Baby sleeping with purple background on the left side with text that reads: 1, Safe Sleep, what is safe sleep anyway?
What is Safe Sleep Anyway?
Baby looking up with green background on the left side with text that reads: 2, Safe Sleep, Is bed sharing safe?
Is Bed Sharing Safe?
Baby sleeping with yellow background on the left side with text that reads: 3, Safe Sleep, Should I bed share if my apartment is cold?
Should I Bed Share If My Apartment is Cold?
Mother breast feeding with purple background on the left side with text that reads: 4, Safe Sleep, Should I bed share when I'm breast feeding?
Should I Bed Share When I'm Breast Feeding?
Baby sleeping with a blue background on the left side with text that reads: 5, Safe Sleep, Why should my baby sleep on his back?
Why Should My Baby Sleep on His Back?
Side view of baby sleeping with blue background on the left side with text that reads: 6, What about side sleeping? Is that safe?
What About Side Sleeping? Is That Safe?
Baby sleeping and parents arms. Purple background on the left side with text that reads: 7, How do I prepare a Safe Sleep crib for sleeping?
How Do I Prepare a Safe Crib for Sleeping?
Baby in the arms of the mother with yellow background on the left side with text that reads: 8, Safe Sleep, What if my family doesn't practice safe sleep?
What If My Family Doesn't Practice Safe Sleep?
Baby in the arms of the brother with the mother watching along. Green background on the left side with text that reads: 9, If I break the Safe Sleep rules occasionally, what's the harm?
If I Break the Safe Sleep Rules Occasionally, What's the Harm?
Mother on her bed reaching for the baby's crib with the baby in it. Blue background on the left side with text that reads: 10, Safe Sleep, What if I don't have enough space for a crib?
What If I Don't Have Enough Space for a Crib?
Baby in the crib looking up with yellow background on the left side with text that reads: 11, Safe Sleep, Baby gear: where can my baby sleep?
Baby Gear: Where Can my Baby Sleep?

Radio Commercials

Green and Purple lines throughout the image with N Y C Infant Safe Sleep Summit logo on the left and text on the right that reads: Closing the gap, an intersectional approach to reducing infant mortality

Safe Sleep Summit 2021 (PDF)

In many ways, the Coronavirus pandemic has amplified pre-existing health inequities for families of color, which stem from the effects of systemic racism on the health of black families in particular. Black families are twice as likely as white families to have their baby die in the first year of life and sadly, NYC still loses 41 babies each year due to this persistent, yet preventable problem.

In our first-ever virtual Infant Safe Sleep Summit held in October 2020 during Safe Sleep Awareness Month, weekly presenters focused on the theme: "Closing the Gap: An Intersectional Approach to Reducing Infant Mortality," to examine the intersecting influences that adversely impact infant survival.

During this webcast series experts, advocates and practitioners shared up-to-date analysis on how institutional racism affects infant mortality. The 2020 Safe Sleep Summit Briefing Book, produced for the series, celebrates a decade of action focused on reducing sleep-related injuries and death during a child's first year of life. It includes outreach strategies, best practices and resources; and honors six practitioners who have heroically championed safe sleep throughout the year. Coming soon: video documentation of the sessions.

View Safe Sleep Posters:

NYC Resources

National Resources