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Washington Regional Medical Center Walker Heart Institute Northwest Arkansas Neuroscience Institute Senior Health Women and Children's Health Total Joint Center

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Safe Sleeping for Babies

When you put your baby down to sleep, think about these three important issues:

Back to sleep

  • Infants should always be placed on their back for sleep (unless otherwise instructed for other health reasons by your baby's doctor).
  • Avoid putting your baby on his/her stomach because this increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Remember to put your baby on his/her tummy ("tummy time") while awake and supervised.

Where will my baby sleep?

  • The safest place for your baby to sleep is in his/her own bed.
  • You may choose to put your baby's crib by your bed or in another room.
  • Sometimes mothers who breastfeed may choose to put their baby in bed with them to breast feed.  However, some experts feel that sleeping with our baby may not be safe for your baby.  There are pros and cons for both sides:


  • Facilitates breast feeding (which benefits maternal and child health
  • Increases the bond/closeness between infant and mother
  • Increases total sleep time for infant and mother


  • Suffocation risks involved in accidental "overlaying" or a blanket or pillow, etc. falling into an infant's face.
  • Strangulation risks involved in infant becoming stuck between a rigid surface (ex. Headboard) and the mattress.

    Sleep locations and suffocation: How good is the evidence? Pediatrics, Vol. 105, No. 4, April 2000

How can I make my baby's bed safe?

While experts have yet to agree on the issue of bed sharing and whether it is safe or dangerous for the infant; they do agree on some safety measure that should be in place.  Those safety measures are:

  • Mattress should be firm and tight fitting to the bed frame.
  • The infant's face should never be covered during sleep.
  • The infant should be wrapped with a light blanket and the infant's clothing should be layered if necessary.
  • Avoid heavy blankets while he/she is asleep.  Children past the first few days of life should be able to regulate their own body temperature just like adults do.  Therefore, heavy blankets and a room temperature that is too warm for adults is also likely to be too warm for your infant.
  • An adult should never sleep with an infant if the adult is overly tired, using drugs, alcohol, or medications that cause sleepiness.
  • If you are excessively overweight and/or have large pendulous breast, do not sleep with your infant because there is a risk of suffocation.
  • Infants should never be allowed to sleep in bed with other children.
  • Infants should never sleep on a waterbed, recliner, futon or sofa.
  • Do not put pillows, fluffy blanket, comforters, wedges, or stuffed animals in the crib with your child because they can fall in the child's face.

Of course, where your child sleeps while at home is a personal decision.  As you are weighing the pros and cons of where your newborn will sleep and discussing the options with your family, we hope that this information will assist you in keeping your child safe - whether it is in your bed or in a crib.

Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics, "A parent's guide to safe sleep"2009

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 Washington Regional
 3215 N. North Hills Blvd.
 Fayetteville, AR 72703
 (479) 463-1000


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