Understanding SIDS

When providing support to our WIC caregivers/families it’s important to review safe sleep strategies regularly since unsafe sleeping practices result in upwards of 3,500 infant deaths annually in the United States. Specifically, in New York State, 90 infants die each year and 50 die due to sleep related injury within New York City itself. That’s almost one infant per week lost to a sleeping situation that is largely preventable. For the most up to date and detailed information on safe sleep visit the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at:

For helpful hints on how to discuss safe sleep with WIC caregivers/families check out the following resource, “Communicating Safe Sleep Messages,” at:

Stated briefly here; the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for promoting safe sleep include:

  • Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep at all times, including all naps and at bedtime, until their first birthday.
  • Only firm sleeping surfaces should be used with a tightly fitted sheet that does not indent when the baby is placed on top of it to sleep.
  • Practice room sharing, keeping the babies sleeping area (ideally a crib) in the same room as the caregiver.
  • Only bring the baby into bed to feed or comfort and immediately place the baby back into their safe sleep area afterwards.
  • Never place a baby on a couch, sofa, or armchair to sleep.
  • Bed-sharing is not recommended for any baby.
  • Keep soft or loose objects like bedding, crib bumpers, stuffed animals, canopies, blankets, sleep-skins, pillows, quilts etc., out of the safe sleep area because they can easily cause suffocation, entrapment or strangulation.
  • Practice swaddling.
  • Try using a pacifier at naptime and bedtime (if breastfeeding wait until breastfeeding is well established before giving a pacifier)

AAP recommendations prenatally and postnatally include:

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy or after the birth of the baby.
  • Do not use alcohol or illicit drugs during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Know that breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS.
  • Schedule and attend all well-child and healthcare visits for the infant.
  • Provide daily opportunities for tummy-time.

AAP recommends to use caution when buying products:

  • Use caution when a product claims to reduce the risk of SIDS
  • Do not rely on home heart or breathing monitors.
  • There is not enough research on bedside or in-bed sleepers.

For additional NYS WIC Training on Safe Sleep, please visit the NYS WIC Training Center’s Learning Management System (LMS) linked here:

For a glossary of sleep related terms:

Page Updated 5.2020