Infant Sleep Safety

In NYC, an average of 41 babies die each year from suffocation and other injuries related to how and where they were placed to sleep.

All babies younger than 1 year are at risk of dying from a sleep-related injury. Babies who are most at risk include those born preterm and babies younger than 4 months. These babies lack the body strength to move out of dangerous situations and may have health conditions that make them more vulnerable.

Most deaths related to infant sleeping are preventable. To keep your baby safe during naps and at night, follow the below practices. Also, make sure everyone who cares for your baby follows them as well.

Safe Sleep Tips

  • Place your baby to sleep on their back. This opens their chests and makes it easier for them to breathe. Babies who sleep on their sides may roll onto their stomach. Sleeping on their stomach makes it harder for them to breathe and increases their risk of suffocation.

  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding and toys away from your baby’s sleep area. Pillows, loose blankets, bumpers, toys or other soft objects are a danger to babies in their sleep environment. Babies can suffocate if they move too close to them and their airways get blocked.
    • Instead of loose blankets, use a wearable blanket or sleep sack, footed pajamas, or an extra layer of infant clothing to keep your baby warm. If you have heating problems in your home and your landlord hasn’t fixed them, call 311.

  • Place your baby to sleep in a crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard that meets current safety standards. To find out if your crib is safe, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772. If you need a crib for your baby but cannot afford one, call 311.

  • Use a firm crib mattress and tightly fitted sheet specifically designed for your baby’s crib. Babies sleep safest on a firm, flat surface. It might seem more comfortable for your baby to have a pillow or blanket on top of the mattress, but they may suffocate on the soft surface.

  • Avoid putting your baby to sleep on an adult bed, couch or armchair — not even for a nap. These products are not made for infants to sleep on and can be dangerous for your baby. Babies can get trapped or wedged between the cushions.

  • Avoid sharing a bed with your baby. Refrain from placing your baby in bed with you or anyone else, including children or pets. Babies may suffocate if a person or pet accidentally rolls on top of them or covers their nose and mouth, blocking their ability to breathe. If you bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort them, set an alarm to make sure you do not accidentally fall asleep in bed with them.

  • Keep your baby’s crib or bassinet near your bed for the first six to 12 months. This will make it easier for you to feed, comfort and watch your baby without risking their safety.

  • Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth. Babies exposed to cigarette smoke during pregnancy or after birth are at greater risk Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other of sleep-related infant deaths. If you smoke, learn about resources available to help you quit.

  • Avoid overheating your baby. Babies should be dressed for the room’s temperature, with no more than one extra layer of clothing than an adult would wear. Check your baby for signs of overheating, such as sweating or a chest that feels hot.

  • Feed your baby breast milk. Studies show human breast milk reduces a baby’s risk of SIDS. It is believed breast milk does this by helping babies build their immune systems, which protects them from infections commonly associated with SIDS. Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding.

  • Protect your baby from pests. If you have pests in your home, keep food and drink away from your baby’s sleep area. Crib netting may also help to protect your baby from pests.

Educational Materials

Additional Resources

More Information