Safety Tips for Sleeping Babies

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so it is important to provide a safe sleep environment for them. Any parent is anxious to make their baby as comfortable during sleep as possible. However, some common steps for a cozy bed may increase the chance of serious problems.

Certain items in and around the crib can be a suffocation hazard to infants. These items may be harmless to older children but infants have smaller airways and less head control. This means they may not be able to reposition themselves if their access to air is blocked, even by something as simple as a blanket. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps to make your baby's sleep environment safer without disturbing your baby's sleep.

Making Your Baby’s Bed Safe

All parents and caregivers should be aware of the possible hazards associated with sleeping.

Here are some tips to making your baby's sleep safer from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Place Your Baby in a Safe Position

When putting a baby less than one year of age to sleep, make sure that you place the baby on his or her back. Sleeping on the stomach has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Children under 6 months old are at increased risk because they are unable to reposition themselves.

Note : When your child is awake, it is okay for your baby to have supervised play time on their belly. This will help your baby develop some posture muscles.

Avoid Sleep Surfaces That Are Too Soft

Do not place the baby to sleep on a soft surface such as:

  • Waterbed
  • Sofa
  • Soft mattress
  • Pillow

Make Sure the Crib Is Safe

A safe crib will have:

  • No missing or broken hardware, and slats no more than 2-3/8" apart
  • No corner posts over 1/16" high
  • No cutout designs in the headboard or footboard
  • A firm, tight-fitting mattress
  • A safety certification seal

Remove Soft Bedding

Remove soft products from the baby’s crib such as:

  • Loose blankets or sheets—consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing instead of blankets
  • Pillows
  • Quilts
  • Comforters
  • Sheepskins
  • Bumper pads
  • Stuffed toys
  • Sleep positioners. They are unnecessary and pose a danger.

Note : Use only a fitted bottom sheet specifically made for the mattress.

Make Sure the Mesh-Sided Crib or Play-Pen Is Safe

For mesh-sided cribs or playpens, look for:

  • Mesh less than 1/4 inch in size, smaller than the tiny buttons on a baby's clothing
  • Mesh with no tears, holes, or loose threads that could entangle a baby
  • Mesh that is securely attached to top rail and floor plate
  • Top rail cover with no tears or holes
  • If staples are used, make sure they are not missing, loose, or exposed
  • Use the firm, tight-fitting mattress that came from the manufacturer

Avoid Co-Sleeping

When infants sleep in adult beds, they are at increased risk for:

  • Getting trapped between the mattress and another object.
  • Getting trapped between the mattress and the wall.
  • Getting trapped in headboard or footboard rails.
  • Suffocation from soft items like clothing, blankets, pillows, and thick bedding.
  • Suffocation from co-sleeping parent.

Your baby can sleep in the same room as you, but do not share the bed.


Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

US Consumer Product Safety Commission


Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada


Back to sleep, tummy to play. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed August 1, 2016.

Consumer Product Safety Commission. Crib safety tips. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Accessed August 1, 2016.

A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed August 1, 2016.

Rechtman L, Colvin J, et al. Pediatrics. 2014 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]. Sofas and infant mortality. Available at: Accessed August 1, 2016.

Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. American Academy of Pediatrics Statement: The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome: diagnostic coding shifts, controversies regarding the sleeping environment, and new variables to consider in reduction risk. Pediatrics. 2005;116:1245-1255. Available at: Accessed August 1, 2016.

10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance US Food and Drug Administration. Infant sleep positioners: consumer warning—risk of suffocation. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Accessed August 1, 2016.

11/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics. 2011;128(5):1030-1039.

Last reviewed August 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 10/23/2014