Infant Sleep Safety

Infant Sleep Safety

Infant Sleep Safety

Illinois Safe Sleep Support is a program for families in Illinois to learn about the safest ways for their babies to sleep, get answers to their sleep safety questions, and get access to items they need to keep their babies safe.

What are safe sleep practices?

Safe sleep practices are the things you can do to make sure your baby is as safe as they can be while they are sleeping, to prevent SUID and SIDS.

What are SUID and SIDS?

  • SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) are terms that describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby’s sleep area.

Most sleep-related deaths happen when babies are between 1 and 4 months old, and the majority (90%) happen before a baby reaches 6 months of age.

Experts recommend that you follow the safe sleep practices outlined here until your baby turns one

Avoid common causes of infant death

Sleeping Infant with mother watching

Share a room, not a bed

We know all parents like to be close to their babies, but it is not safe for a baby to sleep in an adult bed (with or without people). Bedsharing has been proven to increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS.

Your baby can sleep in your room in their own crib or bassinet, where they will be close enough to see and hear, but far enough to keep them safe.

Infant Death Statistics Graphic - parents' bed

Avoid sleeping on couches and chairs

As nice as it might seem to sleep on the couch with your baby on your chest, it isn’t safe. Couches and armchairs are extremely dangerous places for infants, and sleeping on them greatly increases the risk of death, especially if an adult is also asleep.

Infant Death Statistics Graphic - sofa/couch

When you get tired, put your baby down

If you are holding your baby and think you might fall asleep, it is always safest to put them in a crib, bassinet, or portable play yard – even if they are crying or haven’t finished eating. Many infant deaths happen when parents fall asleep while holding their babies (in chairs, on couches, in beds).

icon - Ask YourselfTO KEEP IN MIND

Who can lend a hand with errands, cooking, and cleaning when you need some rest?

If you have a partner living with you, how can you support each other’s sleep?

To keep your baby safe, remember the ABC’S.

Babies should sleep alone, on their back, in a crib, in a smoke-free place.

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Babies are safest when they sleep alone.

  • No blankets, pillows, toys, stuffed animals,
    bumpers or any other items in the crib with them
  • Babies should never sleep with other people
  • Your baby will be safe (and comfortable!) in a crib with a firm, flat mattress, a fitted sheet, and nothing else
  • Instead of a blanket, you can use a swaddle (until your baby can roll, around 2-4 months) or a sleep sack (also called a wearable blanket)
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Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep, at night time and for naps.

  • Doing this has been proven to decrease the risk of sleep-related deaths
  • Doctors recommend you place your baby to sleep on their back until they turn one
  • When your baby starts to roll over on their own during sleep (from back to stomach or stomach to back) you do not need to move them, but you should still always place them to sleep on their back
icon - House
in a crib

Babies should sleep in a crib, bassinet, or portable play yard with a firm, flat mattress and a fitted sheet.

  • Never place your baby to sleep on soft surfaces like an adult bed, couch, pillow, quilt or blanket
  • Do not use a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, infant sling, or similar products as your baby’s regular sleep area
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Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not 
 smoke or allow smoking around your baby.

What to know about swaddles and sleep sacks

It is not safe for babies to sleep with loose blankets. Instead, parents can use swaddles or sleep sacks for an extra layer while their baby is sleeping. But there are important things to keep in mind when using a swaddle or sleep sack.

Swaddling an infant

What is swaddling?

Swaddling your baby means to use a thin blanket or a store-bought swaddle with velcro or a zipper to wrap your baby tightly, with their arms in. This snug feeling resembles the womb, and can help soothe your baby.

Is swaddling safe?

Swaddling is safe as long as you:

  • Use a thin blanket and use the correct swaddling technique to make sure the swaddle blanket does not come loose (or use a store-bought swaddle with velcro or a zipper)
  • Always put your baby down to sleep on their back
  • Make sure your baby is not overheating
  • Stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of rolling
When should you stop swaddling your baby?

Stop swaddling your baby as soon as they show signs of rolling over. This can be as early as 2 months. When your baby shows signs of rolling, you can switch them to a sleep sack, also called a wearable blanket, if you would like an extra layer. Sleep sacks zip up the front and leave your baby’s arms out, allowing them to roll and move freely in their sleep.

For more information on swaddling, including how to correctly swaddle your baby, go to

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The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will make.

Want to learn more about safe sleep?

There is a lot of research and data available about safe sleep practices. To learn more about how you can keep your baby safe, and how we know these practices make a difference, visit these helpful resources:

icon - Ask YourselfTIP FOR PARENTS

The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will make.

Participating Agencies

Many agencies across Illinois have come together to make Illinois Safe Sleep Support possible:


1. Trachtenberg, F. L., Haas, E. A., Kinney, H. C., Stanley, C., & Krous, H. F. (2012). Risk factor changes for sudden infant death syndrome after initiation of Back-to-Sleep campaign. Pediatrics, 129(4), 630-638. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-1419. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from 2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Copyright © 2022. 3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Copyright © 2022.


Additional Reading

icon - Keeping Your Baby Safe

Keeping Your Baby Safe

Babies should be supervised by a trusted adult at all times. Learn about how to keep your baby safe around pets, in the car, and more.

READ MORE  external link icon

icon - Infant Sleep Patterns

Infant Sleep Patterns

Because newborns don’t always have consistent sleeping patterns, it can be challenging to match their schedule with yours. Find out what to expect and how to make sure your baby sleeps safely and soundly.

READ MORE  external link icon

icon - Crying


Understand why babies cry, how you can soothe them, and when to call for extra help.

READ MORE  external link icon