There's no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS, but the following measures will go a long way toward preventing it.

  • Breast-feed. Research shows that any amount of breast-feeding reduces the risk of SIDS. The protective effect is strongest if your baby breast-feeds exclusively for the first six months of life.
  • Back to sleep. Place your baby to sleep resting on his or her back, rather than on the stomach or side. This isn't necessary when your baby's awake or able to roll over both ways without your help. Don't assume that others will place your baby to sleep in the correct position — insist on it. Advise sitters and child care personnel not to resort to the stomach position to calm an upset baby.
  • Select bedding carefully. Use a firm mattress and avoid placing your baby on thick, fluffy padding, such as lambskin or a thick quilt. These may interfere with breathing if your baby's face presses against them. For the same reason, don't use bumper pads or leave pillows, fluffy toys or stuffed animals in your infant's crib.
  • Don't overheat baby. To keep your baby warm, try a sleep sack or other sleep clothing that doesn't require additional covers. If you use a blanket, make it lightweight. Tuck the blanket securely at the foot of the crib, with just enough length to cover your baby's shoulders. Then place your baby in the crib, near the foot, covered loosely with the blanket. Don't cover your baby's head.
  • Baby should sleep alone. Adult beds aren't safe for infants. A baby can become trapped and suffocate between the headboard slats, the space between the mattress and the bed frame, or the space between the mattress and the wall. A baby can also suffocate if a sleeping parent accidentally rolls over and covers the baby's nose and mouth.
  • Offer a pacifier. Sucking on a pacifier at naptime and bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS. One caveat — if you're breast-feeding, wait to offer a pacifier until your baby is 1 month old and you've settled into a comfortable nursing routine. If your baby's not interested in the pacifier, try again later. If the pacifier falls out of your baby's mouth while he or she is sleeping, don't pop it back in.
Oct. 21, 2011