Your baby’s safety is very important to us. We are working together with parents and families to encourage safe sleep and decrease Indiana’s high rate of infant deaths. On average, at least one infant dies each week in Indiana because of bed-sharing or sleeping in an unsafe environment. Sleep-related deaths are the third leading cause of infant deaths in Indiana, and many of these are preventable.
The ABCs of Safe Sleep
How your baby sleeps affects his or her risk of sleep-related death. The ABCs of safe sleep can help you to understand and remember the most important things to do to keep your baby safe. The ABCs of safe sleep are:
All by Myself
The safest way for babies to sleep is by themselves. Your baby should never share a sleep space or bed with another person, including on the couch or in a chair. Keeping the crib clear of all blankets, stuffed animals and toys can help to prevent smothering. To keep your baby close, put his or her crib or bassinet next to your bed.
On My Back
When babies sleep on their tummies, they have more trouble breathing and are at higher risk of sleep-related death. Babies are also less likely to choke when lying on their backs (there is less of a risk of spit up getting into the windpipe in this position). Putting your baby on his or her tummy during waking hours can often help prevent a flat spot from forming on the back of the head. You should always supervise your baby closely during tummy time, making sure he or she is awake for safety.
In My Crib
Sleeping flat in a crib, bassinet or playpen is the safest place for your baby. This keeps your baby from slumping, which can block his or her airway. Keep the crib empty so your baby does not suffocate.
Using a Sleep Sack
Instead of using loose blankets for sleep, Riley at IU Health recommends sleep sacks to families of babies who are less than 1 year old. Loose blankets in the crib can cover your baby’s face and cause breathing problems. Sleep sacks help babies sleep safely by decreasing the chance of suffocation. Other benefits of using a sleep sack include:
- Sleep sacks provide a feeling of security—like when your baby was in the womb.
- Sleep sacks can be used for swaddling. Swaddling is a great way to soothe and calm a fussy baby. Swaddling can also improve sleep by preventing the startle reflex (sudden movements), which can cause your baby to wake up.
- Sleep sacks help babies maintain the correct body temperature without becoming overheated from too many blankets. Babies are at higher risk of sleep-related death if they become overheated. If you do not have a sleep sack, your baby will be warm enough in just footie pajamas.
Important Note About Swaddling
The startle reflex usually goes away by 2 months of age. You should not swaddle your baby after he or she is 2 months old. Doing so could cause your baby to get stuck facedown when rolling over. Sleep sacks are available without the swaddle piece for babies of this age, or the swaddle piece can be used under your baby’s arms with the arms out.
Sleep Safety Facts
Here are some other facts to know about sleep safety:
- Breast-fed babies have a 50 percent less chance of dying from sleep-related deaths.
- Babies who are vaccinated have a lower chance of sleep-related deaths.
- Babies who are around cigarette smoke have a higher risk of sleep-related deaths.
Make sure you share this information with friends and family who care for your baby. Many sleep-related deaths occur in the care of someone other than the parents.
More Information on Sleep Safety
The Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Child Services have established safe sleep locations across the state to provide portable cribs to families who do not have safe places for their infants to sleep. Please see this map to find a location near you.
Talk to your baby's pediatrician if you have more questions about how to keep your baby sleeping safely.
For more information about infant sleep safety, visit these websites:
- American Academy of Pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics shares a video about safe sleep for babies on its website, healthychildren.org.
- Charlie's Kids Foundation. This educational organization provides information about the do's and don'ts of safe sleep.
- Halo. Halo, the producer of SleepSack wearable blankets, shares safe sleep tips on its website.
- Indiana Department of Child Services. The Indiana Department of Child Services provides more safe sleep information and resources on its website.
- Labor of Love. Labor of Love, a product of the Indiana State Department of Health, is an educational program designed to reduce Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.
- Safe to Sleep. This public education campaign led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development delivers resources to help babies sleep more safely.