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ABCs of Safe Sleep

Safe Sleep: Remember Your ABCs

The lives of many babies are cut short by being put to sleep in an unsafe sleep environment. In 2013, one in five infant deaths in Tennessee occurred because of sleep-related causes. These deaths are preventable by following a few key recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The primary message for parents and others who care for infants is to "Remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep." There are three critical measures to follow when it's time for an infant to sleep.

"A" is for Alone: Always let the baby sleep alone, never in a bed with another person where the baby could be smothered. "B" is for on the baby's Back: An infant should be placed to sleep on his or her back, not on his or her side or stomach. "C" is for Crib: Always put your child to sleep in a crib with only a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.

In addition to the ABCs, you can help reduce the risk of sleep-related death by following these tips:

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep at night and at naptime.
  • Babies should always sleep in a crib. The safest place for a baby is in the same room as the parents but alone in a separate sleep area.
  • Place your baby on a firm sleep surface. Use a safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet. Never place a baby to sleep on a pillow, quilt, sheepskin or other soft surface.
  • Keep loose objects, soft toys and bedding out of the baby's sleep area.
  • Do not use pillows and blankets in a baby's sleeping area. Keep all items away from the baby’s face.
  • Keep your baby from overheating during the night. A baby should be dressed lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
  • Do not use crib bumpers. These do not reduce injuries and can cause suffocation.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy, and don’t expose your baby to secondhand smoke after birth.
  • Breastfeed for at least the first six months of life. Babies who breastfeed have a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

Be sure to discuss these safety tips with all your baby’s caregivers, including babysitters, childcare providers and grandparents.

Watch this video to learn more about the ABCs of safe sleep from the Tennessee Department of Health.