While it is not known exactly what causes sudden infant death syndrome, following these steps can reduce the risk.
1. Back is best. When it comes to sleep, the safest position is belly up, because it carries the lowest risk of SIDS. This position should be maintained for all sleep, every time; babies who start out sleeping on their backs and are switched to sleeping on their stomachs are at very high risk for SIDS.
2. Clear the crib. Babies should sleep on a crib-specific mattress with a fitted sheet to reduce the risk of suffocation. Toys, pillows and blankets should not be in the crib, but keeping a dry pacifier near baby can reduce the risk of SIDS.
3. Sleep solo but not far away. While it can be tempting to share a sleeping space with your baby, it is not recommended. Babies who share a room with a caretaker are at a lower risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, but sleeping in a bed or chair with your baby is potentially dangerous. Place the crib or bassinet next to your bed instead.
4. Dress for success. While sleeping, babies should only wear specific one-piece sleep attire. This outfit is typically enough to keep an infant warm, which is why blankets are not necessary. Keep an eye out for signs of overheating in your baby, such as excessive sweating or heavy breathing.
5. Keep it simple. The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have never approved an infant sleep positioner as a means to prevent SIDS, and instead report that the products are dangerous and increase the chances of suffocation. Instead, the AAP recommends the safest method is placing babies on their backs to sleep.