Each year in the United States there are about 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID).

Of these cases, 45 percent were categorized Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), an unexplained death of a baby that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation. Twenty-four percent of the cases were categorized as a sleep-related cause of infant death, which includes accidental suffocation by bedding—when a baby gets trapped between two objects—or strangulation.

Although SIDS is not preventable, there are ways for caregivers to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. By creating a safe sleep zone for your baby every time he is placed down to sleep, you will be providing your baby the best possible chance to survive and thrive.

1. Back is best

Always place your baby to sleep on his back at naptime and nighttime.

2. Up-to-date crib

When choosing a crib for your baby, make sure it meets current safety standards and has a firm mattress. Do not use a crib that is more than 10 years old or that has been modified in any way.

3. Only a sheet

Use only a tight-fitting sheet. 

4. Nothing in the crib

No soft bedding, toys, bumpers, pillows, etc.

5. No loose blankets

To keep your baby warm, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the use of a wearable blanket.

6. Share your room—not your bed

Do not bed-share, as this can put a baby at risk of suffocation, which is the biggest threat to an infant up to four months of age. Experts recommend keeping your child close during the early months to facilitate nighttime feeding and to enhance bonding.

Whatever you ultimately select for your baby’s sleep space, it is most important for him to be alone, on his back and in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets all current safety standards. When in doubt, check with the baby’s parents or a pediatrician.