Skip to main content

Military Health System

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: How to Keep Babies Safe While Sleeping

Image of baby boy asleep on his back in a crib. A baby sleeps on his back in a crib that just has a fitted sheet on it and nothing more. To prevent SIDS, always place babies on their backs for naps and at nighttime with no extras in the sleeping space – no toys, bumpers, or blankets.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

More than 1,000 young babies die in their sleep every year in America due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS.

It’s a terrifying thought for parents – the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy child less than a year old. The exact cause of SIDS remains unclear; doctors have been unable to fully explain the cause despite years of research.

However, there are several important precautions that parents of newborns can take to reduce the risk. Some of those safety measures for newborns include:

  • Always put a baby down to sleep on their back – not the stomach. 
  • Keep objects out of the crib or bassinette -- no pillows, no toys, no crib bumpers, no blankets.
  • Consider having the baby sleep in the same room as a parent – but never in the same bed. 

SIDS accounts for more than one out of three sudden or unexpected infant deaths in the United States each year.

For military families, the Family Advocacy Programs at military installations offer a New Parent Support Program, which can provide one-on-one advice at home. The program offers up-to-date parenting practices supported by the latest research.

Although the incidents of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths have decreased in recent years, it remains a risk that parents and other caretakers should be aware of.

Most SIDS deaths happen among babies who are between 1 and 4 months’ old, and 90% of SIDS deaths involve babies less than 6 months of age. However, SIDS deaths can happen anytime during a baby's first year.

Slightly more boys die of SIDS than girls but the reason for the gender difference is unknown, according to Dr. Stacey Frazier, a retired Air Force colonel who is now chief of inpatient pediatrics at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.

A leading factor in SIDS is unsafe bedding, such as soft or loose blankets. “Some of the reason for SIDS may be overheating,” Frazier said, as “there is some evidence” that it affects a baby’s breathing.

SIDS also may result from some object in the crib or bassinet that restricts a baby’s ability to breathe as they move around in their sleep. Therefore, pediatricians recommend that “sleeping babies have no pillows, no toys, no crib bumpers, no blankets – nothing that can be pulled over the head,” Frazier said.

There are special sleep sacks that can be used so that a baby cannot pull an item over his or her head. The sleep sacks are used in the maternity wards of some military hospitals.

One hard rule that must be followed: Babies should never sleep in the same bed as their parents, also known as “co-sleeping,” said Dr. Rita Moreck, the chief of outpatient pediatrics at Fort Bliss’s Hugo V. Mendoza Soldier Family Care Center in Texas. Babies should be in a separate crib or bassinet next to a parent’s bed. She said she regularly has to emphasize that directive to parents, and that co-sleeping still is a cause of sudden unexpected infant death.

Pacifiers during the night and sleeping in the same room with a parent are also recommended to reduce the potential for SIDS.

Babies should sleep in the same room as a parent for at least six months, or, ideally, until they are a year old. “There may be some protective effect” from a pacifier and the presence of others in the room that keep a baby’s brain more alert, Frazier said, “and a little bit more arousable.”

The baby’s sleeping space should have a hard flat surface and a mattress that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, Moreck explained. Only a fitted sheet should be used on the surface, with no additional sheets or blankets, she added.

Breastfeeding your baby is important for many reasons. Frazier said there are theories that SIDS is caused by some minor viral illness, and breastmilk has all the necessary antibodies to provide protection. 

Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to reduce the risk of SIDS are one of the most cited sources of information for parents. The AAP recommendations include:

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby. 
  • Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs during pregnancy.
  • Visit the baby’s health care provider for regular well-baby checkups and vaccinations to prevent disease. Evidence suggests that immunizations can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.

Finally, there are many myths about SIDS:

  • SIDS is not caused by vaccines, immunizations, or shots
  • SIDS is not contagious
  • SIDS is not caused by cribs
  • SIDS is not caused by vomiting or choking

You also may be interested in...

Uniformed Services University Professor Develops Self-Diagnosis, Treatment Kit for Common Female Infections

Article Around MHS
1/4/2023
USU infographic with Dr. Elizabeth Kostas-Polston

It's a major research advancement in women's health and females serving in the U.S. military may soon have access to it. See how a new, self-diagnosis and self-treatment kit can help deployed women overseas or in austere environments.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Research & Innovation | Women's Health

Women's Health Equity is a Real Focus for DOD, Mullen Says

Article
12/27/2022
Military medical personnel at medical examination

Women’s heath equity is fully invested in by DOD’s actions, acting AD for Health Affairs tells a recent podcast.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Blanchfield Named One of Best Hospitals for Maternity Care

Article Around MHS
12/22/2022
Meternity patients filling out forms

Providing safe, excellent, quality care to patients takes incredible work and dedication - especially when it comes to women's health. Find out what's happening at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital that landed them a top spot on the Best Hospitals for Maternity Care list.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

Protect Yourself With Respiratory Illnesses on the Rise

Article Around MHS
12/19/2022
Military medical personnel administering vaccine

"Tis the season, and respiratory illnesses are on the rise. Learn critical health guidance about the viral triple threat of COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold, and the commonsense steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Children's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Immunization Tool Kit | Influenza, Northern Hemisphere | Immunization Healthcare Division

Breast Cancer Reminder: Get Your Annual Screening

Article
12/15/2022
Military personnel in mammogram screening

Annual mammograms are easy to schedule and can detect very small cancers.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | MHS GENESIS

More Inclusive Research Key to Understanding Prevalence of Dementia

Article
12/7/2022
Animated image of brain

Dementia and its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, are cognitive disorders that affect more women than men. Although there are various theories on why, more equitable research is needed.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Psychological Fitness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence

Cervical Health Awareness Month

Infographic
12/6/2022
Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, but can be prevented through vaccination and regular screening. Get information on women’s health: https://health.mil/WomensHealth #CervicalHealthAwarenessMonth

Recommended Content:

January | Women's Health

Birth Defects Prevention Month

Infographic
12/6/2022
Birth Defects Prevention Month

Getting enough folic acid in your diet before and during pregnancy is one easy way to help prevent birth defects. Here’s some information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/index.html

Recommended Content:

January | Women's Health

Military Health System Offers a Variety of Contraceptive Care Services

Article
12/1/2022
military medical personnel demonstrates an intrauterine device

The Military Health System offers ample contraceptive care services to help beneficiaries take control of their health, life, and careers.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Contraceptive Care Q&A | Reproductive Health Q&A | Reproductive Health Toolkit | Walk-In Contraceptive Services Toolkit | Contraceptive Care Toolkit

Introducing Contraceptive Care Clinics

Video
11/23/2022
Introducing Contraceptive Care Clinics

Walk-in contraceptive services are now available at military hospitals and clinics. No referral or appointment is required. Check with your local military hospital or clinic to see if walk-in appointments are available. Learn more at health.mil/womenshealth.

Recommended Content:

Walk-In Contraceptive Services Toolkit | Women's Health | Contraceptive Care Q&A | Contraceptive Care Toolkit | Reproductive Health Toolkit

Colorectal Cancer Screening Age Decreases to 45

Article
11/22/2022
A patient sits in an office with while a health care provider talks to her.

Though the overall death rate from colorectal cancers have been on the decline in recent years, it remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health

U.S. Air Force Provides Information for Aircrew Considering Flying During Their Pregnancy

Article Around MHS
11/14/2022
U.S. Air Force Maj. Molly Sexton conducts pre-flight inspections

In April 2022, the U.S. Air Force issued a clarification of policies pertaining to aircrew during pregnancy. The policy recognized the need to provide aircrew, commanders, and health care professionals greater awareness of and transparency around the process for submission and review of waivers to fly during pregnancy.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

What You Should Know About RSV: Symptoms, Prevention, Care

Article Around MHS
11/14/2022
infant smiling

You may have heard of a virus called respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV. But do you know how serious it is and who is most at risk? Learn the signs, and how quickly RSV can put patients at risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental

MHS Minute | October 2022

Video
11/9/2022
MHS Minute | October 2022

This MHS Minute focuses on the contraceptive care services available to service members and beneficiaries. Learn more by visiting: https://tricare.mil/birthcontrol and https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Total-Force-Fitness/Preventive-Health/Womens-Health/Contraceptive-Care-QnA Access communications products at https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/MHS-Toolkits/Contraceptive-Care-Toolkit

Recommended Content:

Contraceptive Care Toolkit | Women's Health

Murtha Cancer Center Hosts 2022 Breast Cancer Summit

Article Around MHS
11/7/2022
Military medical personnel performing mammogram

The John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center hosted its 2022 Breast Cancer Summit virtually Oct. 26. The summit is held annually during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Recommended Content:

October | Women's Health | Cancers of the Female Reproductive System
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 9
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 24, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery