Tips to Avoid SIDS and SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths)

sids reduce risk


Whether you’re expecting, a parent or even a grandparent, most have heard of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Unfortunately, what you’re really concerned about is Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID). SIDS is the leading cause of this category.

SUID is defined as sudden and unexpected deaths in infants less than one year of age. In order for a death to be a SUID case, the causes must not be immediately apparent. There are approximately 4,000 SUID infant deaths per year in the U.S. The three most frequently reported causes of SUID are as follows: SIDS, cause unknown, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. Half of SUID cases are due to SIDS.

Tips for the first year of life

This post provides tips modified from recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They are meant to help you reduce the risk of SIDS and SUID in your home. Consider these tips applicable for the first year:

sids back to sleep

  • Place your baby to sleep on his back for every sleep and nap.
  • Place your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface. Never put your baby to sleep on a chair, sofa, waterbed, cushion, or sheepskin.
  • If your baby falls asleep in a car safety seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or infant sling he should be moved to a firm sleep surface as soon as possible.

SIDS wrong sleep position

Tips about bed equipment

  • Do not use a crib that is broken or missing parts, or has drop-side rails. 
  • Cover your baby’s mattress with a fitted sheet. Do not put blankets or pillows between the mattress and the fitted sheet.

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  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the crib. Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads, and stuffed toys can cause your baby to suffocate.

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Things parents can do to avoid SUID and SIDS

  • Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not the same bed. Keep the crib or bassinet within an arm’s reach of your bed. You can easily watch or breastfeed your baby by having your baby nearby. Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents are at risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation. Too often, parents can roll onto babies during sleep or babies can get tangled in the sheets or blankets.

sids and breastfeeding

  • Breastfeed as much and for as long as you can. Studies show that breastfeeding your baby can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Schedule and go to all well-child visits. Your baby will receive important immunizations. Recent evidence suggests that immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS.
  • Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. Keep your car and home smoke-free. Don’t smoke inside your home or car and don’t smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.


  • Do not let your baby get too hot. Keep the room where your baby sleeps at a comfortable temperature. In general, dress your baby in no more than one extra layer than you would wear. Your baby may be too hot if she is sweating or if her chest feels hot.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. This helps to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 3 to 4 weeks.

sids back to sleep

More Tips

  • Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Home cardiorespiratory monitors can be helpful for babies with breathing or heart problems but they have not been found to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Products such as wedges, positioners, special mattresses, and specialized sleep surfaces have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. In addition, some infants have suffocated while using these products.

sids back to play

  • Give your baby plenty of “tummy time” when she is awake and you are present. This will help strengthen neck muscles and avoid flat spots on the head. Always stay with your baby during tummy time and make sure she is awake.

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  • If you’re an expectant mom, go to all prenatal doctor visits. Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs while pregnant and after birth.

Print this out!

Keep these tips handy. We certainly don’t want your sudden bundle of joy to become a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Click here for additional tips about caring for your newborn!

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