Safe Sleep FAQs

Why should my baby sleep alone? I feel safer with my baby near me.

Over 70% of infant sleep-related deaths in Sacramento happen when babies sleep with an adult or with other children. Remember, it doesn't take much for a baby to suffocate.

How am I going to bond with my baby if he/she doesn't sleep with me?

Holding your baby when he/she is awake (i.e. for feedings, soothing and bonding) is encouraged. It is only when your baby is sleeping that he or she needs to be alone, on their back and in a crib.

How am I going to breastfeed if my baby doesn't sleep with me?

Breastfeeding is recommended! Remember—share a room, not a bed. Put your baby’s crib next to your bed so that you can easily pick him or her up for feedings during the night then return him or her to crib for sleep.

Everyone I know sleeps with their baby—it's part of my culture.

We now know more about the safest places for babies to sleep from collecting data on infant deaths. Babies are more likely to suffocate when they sleep with an adult in an adult bed. Remember to put your baby's safety first.

Why do I need to get a crib or bassinet for my baby to sleep?

In Sacramento County, nearly 90% of sleep-related deaths occur when baby is NOT sleeping in a crib or bassinet.  Cribs and bassinets are the safest place for your baby to sleep. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed or couch or with pillows, cushions or stuffed animals. Your baby could suffocate from these soft materials. Your baby also could become trapped in between cushions on a couch or get stuck between the bed and the wall. Car seats and infant carriers should not be used as your baby’s bed. It’s just not worth taking a risk.

What kind of crib should I get for my baby?

Your baby’s crib does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe. There are many types of stationary and portable cribs (such as a Pack ‘n Play™) that are safe and meet current safety guidelines. Look here for safety recalls

The mattress should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. The crib sheet should fit tightly all the way around and under the mattress. Nothing else should be in the crib with your baby – no quilts, blankets, comforters, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or soft toys. 

Won’t my baby get cold without a blanket or sheet?

Dress your baby in a sleeper or sleep sack for warmth, but do not use blankets or allow your baby to get too warm. Overheating can be a risk for infant sleep-related death. If the room temperature is comfortable for you, then it is also comfortable for your baby.

My mother and auntie are telling me that they placed their babies on their stomachs while sleeping and that I slept on my stomach, so my baby should sleep on his stomach. Was that wrong?

We didn't know as much about SIDS or ways to reduce the risk until the early 1990s. Most of us slept on our stomachs—and we survived. But many babies didn't. There is no way to know which babies will die of SIDS, but we do know how to reduce the risk. In Sacramento County, nearly 50% of sleep-related deaths occur when the baby is sleeping on their stomach or side. One of the most effective and easiest ways to reduce the risk of SIDS is to place your baby on his or her back to sleep for naps and at night. 

What if my baby's grandparents or another caregiver wants to place my baby to sleep on his or her stomach for naptime?

Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed to sleep on their stomachs, such as for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS. So it is important for everyone who cares for your baby to use the back sleep position for all sleep times—for naps and at night.

What if my baby can't get used to sleeping on his or her back?

The baby's comfort is important, but safety is more important. Parents and caregivers should place babies on their backs to sleep even if they seem less comfortable or sleep more lightly than when on their stomachs.

Some babies don't like sleeping on their backs at first, but most get used to it quickly. The earlier you start placing your baby on his or her back to sleep, the more quickly your baby will adjust to the position.

If your baby is used to sleeping on his/her stomach, it may take a few days to get used to it, but rest assured—he/she will. Soon your baby will think it is natural.

You can also use a pacifier to calm your baby and help him or her go to sleep. Research suggests that pacifiers help reduce risk too.

Is it okay if my baby sleeps on his or her side?

Babies placed to sleep on their sides are at increased risk for infant sleep-related death. For this reason, babies should sleep wholly on their backs—the position associated with the lowest risk.

Won’t my baby choke if he sleeps on his back?

Many parents believe that babies are more likely to choke if they sleep on their back. This is not true. In fact, your baby is LESS likely to choke on his or her back, because in that position the windpipe (trachea) is above the food tube (esophagus). Anything that is spit up from the stomach has to go against gravity to be inhaled into the windpipe. A healthy baby generally will turn his or her head so that spit up goes out of the mouth- not back down the throat.

When your baby is on his or her stomach, anything spit up can block the windpipe and cause choking or breathing problems.

What if my baby rolls onto his or her stomach during sleep? Do I need to put my baby in the back sleep position again if this happens?

No. Most babies start rolling over on their own around 4 to 6 months of age. If your baby rolls over on his or her own during sleep, you do not need to turn your baby over onto his or her back. The important thing is that your baby starts every sleep time on his or her back to reduce the risk of SIDS, and that there is no soft, loose bedding in the baby's sleep area.

Doesn’t my baby need to spend time on his tummy?

Yes! You can provide ‘tummy time’ when he is awake and being watched. This will help strengthen his neck and arm muscles and prevent flat spots on the back of his head.

For more information on 'tummy time,' go to

Will my baby get flat spots on the back of the head from sleeping on his or her back?

When it occurs too often or for too long a time, pressure on the same part of the baby's head can cause flat spots. Such flat spots are usually not dangerous and typically go away on their own once the baby starts sitting up. Making sure your baby gets enough Tummy Time when awake is one way to help prevent these flat spots. Check out the other things parents and caregivers can do to prevent flat spots on the back of the head. Visit the Other Ways To Help Prevent Flat Spots on Baby's Head section of the website for more information.

When can I stop placing a baby to sleep on his or her back?

You should always place the baby on her back, but once the baby is able to roll over on her own don’t worry about trying to keep her on her back.

Why shouldn't I use crib bumpers in my baby's sleep area?

Bumper pads and similar products that attach to crib slats or sides are frequently used with the thought of protecting infants from injury. However, evidence does not support using crib bumpers to prevent injury. In fact, crib bumpers can cause serious injuries or death. Keeping them out of your baby's sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.

Before crib safety was regulated, the spacing between the slats of the crib sides could be any width, which posed a danger to infants if they were too wide. Parents and caregivers used padded crib bumpers to protect infants. Now that cribs must meet safety standards, the slats don’t pose the same dangers. As a result, the bumpers are no longer needed.

Where do I go to get more information on Safe Sleep Baby?

For help in getting a crib, or in accessing parent education workshops, contact Safe Sleep Baby at 916-244-1900, or visit