Infant Safe Sleep

Safe sleep saves lives

Illinois Safe Sleep Support

Welcome to Illinois Safe Sleep Support, a program for families in Illinois to learn about the safest ways for their babies to sleep, get answers to their sleep safety questions, and get access to items they need to keep their babies safe.

Work in healthcare or childcare? Click here for safe sleep resources you can share with patients and families.

What are safe sleep practices?

Safe sleep practices are the things you can do to make sure your baby is as safe as they can be while they are sleeping, to prevent SUID and SIDS.

What are SUID and SIDS?

SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) are terms that describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby's sleep area.

Most sleep-related deaths happen when babies are between 1 and 4 months old, and
the majority (90%) happen before a baby reaches 6 months of age.

Experts recommend that you follow the safe sleep practices outlined here until your baby turns one.

Why are safe sleep practices so important?

Every 3 days, a baby in Illinois dies in their sleep.

We now know that there are many things we can do to prevent these deaths, and we are sharing that information to help parents save lives.

Avoid common causes of infant death

Being a new parent is exhausting. It can be hard to remember all of the things you need to do to keep your baby safe, and there are some things parents might not even know are dangerous until it's too late. If you have a baby under the age of one, keep these things in mind:

Share a room, not a bed

We know all parents like to be close to their babies, but it is not safe for a baby to sleep in an adult bed (with or without people). Bedsharing has been proven to increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS.

Your baby can sleep in your room in their own crib or bassinet, where they will be close enough to see and hear, but far enough to keep them safe.

The risk of sleep-related infant death while bed sharing is up to 10 times higher

Avoid sleeping on couches and chairs

As nice as it might seem to sleep on the couch with your baby on your chest, it isn't safe. Couches and armchairs are extremely dangerous places for infants, and sleeping on them greatly increases the risk of death, especially if an adult is also asleep.

The risk of infant death on a sofa or couch is up to 67 times higher than sleeping separately

When you get tired, put your baby down

If you are holding your baby and think you might fall asleep, it is always safest to put them in a crib, bassinet, or portable play yard - even if they are crying or haven't finished eating. Many infant deaths happen when parents fall asleep while holding their babies (in chairs, on couches, in beds).

To keep your baby safe, remember the ABC'S

Babies should sleep alone, on their back, in a crib, in a smoke free place.


    • Babies are safest when they sleep alone.
    • No blankets, pillows, toys, stuffed animals, bumpers or any other items in the crib with them
    • Babies should never sleep with other people
    • Your baby will be safe (and comfortable!) in a crib with a firm, flat mattress, a fitted sheet, and nothing else
    • Instead of a blanket, you can use a swaddle (until your baby can roll, around 2-4 months) or a sleep sack (also called a wearable blanket)

    • Why?
      We know that babies who sleep under a soft covering, such as a soft blanket or quilt, are more likely to die of SIDS or suffocation. These deaths are more likely when soft objects, toys, and blankets are in the baby's sleep area.

    • Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep, at night time and for naps.
    • Doing this has been proven to decrease the risk of sleep-related deaths
    • Doctors recommend you place your baby to sleep on their back until they turn one
    • When your baby starts to roll over on their own during sleep (from back to stomach or stomach to back) you do not need to move them, but you should still always place them to sleep on their back

    • Why?
      Research from many countries shows that babies who are placed to sleep on their stomachs are more likely to die of SIDS. The exact reason for this is not known, but there have been dramatic decreases in SIDS rates in all countries that have advised parents to only place their babies to sleep on their backs.

    • Babies should sleep in a crib, bassinet, or portable play yard with a firm, flat mattress and a fitted sheet.
    • Never place your baby to sleep on soft surfaces like an adult bed, couch, pillow, quilt or blanket
    • Do not use a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, infant sling, or similar products as your baby's regular sleep area

    • Why?
      Research shows that a high rate of infants involved in sleep-related deaths were found in places not approved for infant sleep.

    • Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.
    • If someone in your family smokes, ask them to do it outside and away from your baby

    • Why?
      Research shows that infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at a greater risk for SIDS.

What to know about swaddles and sleep sacks

It is not safe for babies to sleep with loose blankets. Instead, parents can use swaddles or sleep sacks for an extra layer while their baby is sleeping. But there are important things to keep in mind when using a swaddle or sleep sack.

What is swaddling?

Swaddling your baby means to use a thin blanket or a store-bought swaddle with velcro or a zipper to wrap your baby tightly, with their arms in. This snug feeling resembles the womb, and can help soothe your baby.

Is swaddling safe?

  • Swaddling is safe as long as you:
  • Use a thin blanket and use the correct swaddling technique to make sure the swaddle blanket does not come loose (or use a store-bought swaddle with velcro or a zipper)
  • Always put your baby down to sleep on their back
  • Make sure your baby is not overheating
  • Stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of rolling

When should you stop swaddling your baby?

Stop swaddling your baby as soon as they show signs of rolling over. This can be as early as 2 months. When your baby shows signs of rolling, you can switch them to a sleep sack, also called a wearable blanket, if you would like an extra layer. Sleep sacks zip up the front and leave your baby's arms out, allowing them to roll and move freely in their sleep.

For more information on swaddling, including how to correctly swaddle your baby, go to Swaddling and Sleep Sack Guidance -

Want to learn more about safe sleep?

There is a lot of research and data available about safe sleep practices. To learn more about how you can keep your baby safe, and how we know these practices make a difference, visit these helpful resources:

Help us make a difference

Help us save lives by sharing safe sleep materials. We've created these resources to help pediatricians, healthcare professionals and agencies educate parents and caregivers on infant safe sleep.

Participating Agencies

Many agencies across Illinois have come together to make Illinois Safe Sleep Support possible:


1. Trachtenberg, F. L., Haas, E. A., Kinney, H. C., Stanley, C., & Krous, H. F. (2012). Risk factor changes for sudden infant death syndrome after initiation of Back-to-Sleep campaign. Pediatrics, 129(4), 630-638. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-1419. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from 2. Illinois Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics 3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Copyright © 2022. 4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Copyright © 2022.