Revised American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) guidelines, released in October 2005, recommend the following:
Always put a baby to sleep on its back. (This includes naps.) Do NOT put a baby to sleep on its stomach. Side sleeping is unstable and should also be avoided. Allowing the baby to roll around on its tummy while awake can prevent a flat spot (due to sleeping in one position) from forming on the back of the head.
Only put babies to sleep in a crib. Never allow the baby to sleep in bed with other children or adults, and do NOT put them to sleep on surfaces other than cribs, like a sofa.
Let babies sleep in the same room (NOT the same bed) as parents. If possible, babies' cribs should be placed in the parents' bedroom to allow for night-time feeding.
Avoid soft bedding materials. Babies should be placed on a firm, tight-fitting crib mattress with no comforter. Use a light sheet to cover the baby. Do not use pillows, comforters, or quilts.
Make sure the room temperature is not too hot. The room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. A baby should not be hot to the touch.
Offer the baby a pacifier when going to sleep. Pacifiers at naptime and bedtime can reduce the risk of SIDS. Doctors think that a pacifier might allow the airway to open more, or prevent the baby from falling into a deep sleep. A baby that wakes up more easily may automatically move out of a dangerous position. If the baby is breastfeeding, it is best to wait until 1 month before offering a pacifier, so that it doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding. Do not force a baby to use a pacifier.
Do not use breathing monitors or products marketed as ways to reduce SIDS. In the past, home apnea (breathing) monitors were recommended for families with a history of the condition. But research found that they had no effect, and the use of home monitors has largely stopped.
Other recommendations from SIDS experts:
- Keep your baby in a smoke-free environment.
- Breastfeed your baby, if possible. Breastfeeding reduces some upper respiratory infections that may influence the development of SIDS.
- Never give honey to a child younger than 1 year old. Honey in very young children may cause infant botulism, which may be associated with SIDS.