New Safe Sleep Guidelines from the AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently updated their safe sleep recommendations. Their safe sleep guidelines were last updated in 2011.

new safe sleep guidelinesWhat is Safe Sleep?

Each year, 3,500 infants die from sleep-related deaths. Unsafe sleep conditions are one cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when a seemingly healthy baby dies without warning or with no clear reason. The effort to prevent infants from dying in their sleep began in the 90’s during the Back to Sleep campaign. Ever since, the SIDS rate has been declining. However, it still is too big of an issue to ignore with babies dying every year.

  • Don’t put any toys or blankets in the bed with the infant
  • The infant should always sleep on their back
  • The infant should always sleep in a safe crib or Pack ‘n Play
  • Parents or guardians should not share a bed or other sleep surface with infants

For an easy rule of thumb, you can follow the safe sleep ABC’s

  • A for the baby sleeping alone
  • B for sleeping on their back
  • C for sleeping in an uncluttered crib (or play-yard or bassinet).

You can read more about safe sleep guidelines on our safe sleep page

What has changed?

There are a couple of new items the AAP emphasizes in their updated recommendations:

  1. In addition to making sure that there are no blankets or padding in the crib with the child, the AAP now states that infants should not be put to sleep on soft bedding, plush mattresses, on a couch or in an upholstered chair. discourages soft bedding, plush mattresses and the infant sleeping on a couch or armchair.
  2. While bed sharing is dangerous, ROOM sharing is helpful. Until the baby is 1 year old, the infant should sleep in the same room as the parent(s). This allows for more frequent monitoring.
  3. Breast feeding has so many benefits for babies. It was always a guideline that mothers shouldn’t breastfeed while laying down or in a resting position. The mother may fall asleep and could increase the risk to the baby. However, it’s emphasized in the new report that breastfeeding itself actually reduces the risk of SIDS by about 50%.

Full list of Safe Sleep Guidelines

This is the full list of all safe sleep recommendations based on American Academy of Pediatrics’ recently released 2016 guidelines. However, not all of the recommendations are new; some are the same as in 2011.

  1. Place infants on their back to sleep (supine) for every sleep period until they are 1 year old. This position does not increase the risk of choking and aspiration.
  2. Use a firm sleep surface.
  3. Breastfeeding is recommended.
  4. Infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year, but at least for the first six months.
  5. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area.
  6. Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
  7. Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth.
  8. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.
  9. Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.
  10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.
  11. Infants should be immunized according to the recommended schedule.
  12. Avoid using commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations, such as wedges and positioners.
  13. Don’t use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce SIDS risk. 
  14. Supervised tummy time while the infant is awake can help development and minimize positional plagiocephaly.
  15. There is no evidence to recommend swaddling to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  16. Health care professionals and staff in newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units as well as child care providers should endorse and model recommendations to reduce SIDS risk.
  17. Media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in messaging and advertising.
  18. Continue the Safe to Sleep campaign, focusing on ways to further reduce sleep-related deaths.
  19. Research and surveillance should continue on all risk factors.

More information can be found at

SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment
Pediatrics Nov 2016, 138 (5) e20162938; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-2938