Updated SIDS Prevention Guidelines

by Christina Elston

An increase in sleep-related infant deaths from suffocation and entrapment has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to expand guidelines aimed at
preventing Suddenmother and infant Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The AAP has recommended, since 1992, that babies be put to sleep on their backs to protect against SIDS. Their new sleep-safety recommendations for parents, released this week on the heels of the organization’s annual conference, include the following:

• Breastfeed your baby, because breastfeeding is associated with reduced risk of SIDS.

• Immunize your baby. There is evidence that the infant schedule of vaccinations against a variety of diseases reduces SIDS risk by 50 percent.

• Do not use bumper pads in your baby’s crib. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, but infants have become entangled in them and strangled or suffocated.

Other recommendations include always putting babies to sleep on their backs, on a firm sleep surface (not a car seat or infant seat) free from soft objects or loose bedding (pillows and blankets). Babies should sleep in the same room as their parents, but not in the same bed, and parents should avoid using wedges or sleep positioners for their babies. Babies also shouldn’t be dressed too warmly or have their heads covered during sleep.

The AAP favors regular prenatal care, pacifiers and supervised tummy time, and frowns on parents’ smoking, as well as on the home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce SIDS risk.

Learn more about SIDS prevention online at

Posted October 2011, updated October 2012

Christina Elston is's health editor and the editor of L.A. Parent Magazine.