Remembering safe sleep practices is as easy as ABC... Alone, Back, Crib


babies should be placed in their OWN safe sleep space

Alone means that babies should be placed in their OWN safe sleep space, not to be shared with a caregiver, sibling, pet, etc.

This can be a confusing message and is not meant to be a term of neglect, or lack of attachment. Parents should not leave their infants alone in a different room to sleep, but bring baby into their room to sleep.

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first six months of life (ideally, for the first year of life). This makes routines easier for feeding, and convenient when baby needs attended to.

The top picture is portraying an unsafe sleeping environment - dad sleeping with the baby. Parents can hold their babies while the baby is sleeping, but we need to ensure that caregivers are also not sleeping while holding their babies.

The bottom picture represents the golden rule or phrase, share the room not the bed.

The safest place for baby to sleep is in the room where you sleep, but not in your bed.

Adult beds are dangerous for babies to sleep

Adult beds are dangerous for babies to sleep; there are many things that could happen:

  • Baby could roll off the bed
  • Baby could become trapped between bed and wall or bed and headboard
  • Baby could suffocate due to soft surfaces, such as blankets, pillows, and thick mattresses
  • Caregivers, siblings, or pets can roll onto baby causing suffocation



B stands for back – back is best. The safe sleep recommendations have changed over the years, but research has shown that placing a baby on their back to sleep makes it easier for them to breathe and they are less likely to choke.

You should place your baby to sleep on his/her back for their first year of life.

Why is the back position safer than the belly position?

Sleeping Baby

Looking at this picture, you can see that babies have two tubes on top of one another, one being the trachea and one being the esophagus. On the right hand side, the baby is placed on their stomach to sleep, if they were to spit up, that liquid would travel to the lowest tube which would take the spit up to the trachea which leads to the lungs and can cause aspiration.

On the left hand side, you can see when a baby is placed on their back to sleep, if they were to spit up, that liquid would travel to the lowest tube, which is now the esophagus since they’re flipped over.

Gravity is going to carry that liquid to the esophagus which will lead the stomach - Which is exactly where we would want it to go!

Also, looking at this picture, when a baby is placed on their stomach to sleep, they are not receiving clean, fresh oxygen, they are actually breathing in their own carbon dioxide that they are breathing out, which is a danger for suffocation.

Do I need to reposition my baby to their back every time they roll to their stomach?

If a baby can NOT consistently roll to their stomach ON THEIR OWN, then they should be repositioned on their back each time they end up on their stomach.

If baby can consistently roll to their stomach on their own, then they will not need to be repositioned each time because they have the muscle memory to move their head to the side or even the strength to roll back on to their back.

One thing you might be worried about with baby sleeping on their back is developing a flat spot of the back of their head. One way to avoid this, is practicing supervised tummy time. Place your baby on their tummy while awake and supervised for short periods of time beginning soon after hospital discharge. Tummy time should be increased incrementally to at least 15-30 minutes daily by 7 weeks of age.



multiple hazards in this picture

C stands for an empty crib. Parents and caregivers should place their babies in a crib, portable crib, or bassinet whenever the baby is sleeping, for naps and at night time.

Empty cribs are best, it eliminates dangers related to suffocation – we would recommend only having a firm mattress and tightly-fitted sheet in the crib or safe sleep environment when baby is sleeping.

Please do not place use blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. in the crib with baby. These are safety hazards for suffocation and strangulation.

The top picture has blankets, crib bumpers, stuffed animals, and the baby is placed on their stomach. You can spot multiple hazards in this picture compared to the bottom one where the baby is placed in an empty portable crib on their backs.

Babies do not know comfort until you introduce it to them. Unlike us, babies are perfectly content in what we would consider a boring or uncomfortable sleeping environment without blankets, pillows, mattress toppers, etc. What is comfortable for us could be dangerous for baby.

Sleep clothing, such as sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are safer for baby than blankets. Dress the baby, not the bed!

Babies should sleep on firm, flat, and non-inclined surfaces. Any surface used for sleeping with an incline of more than 10 degrees, is unsafe.

Do not place weighted blankets, weighted sleepers, weighted swaddles, etc. should not be placed on or near your sleeping baby. These products increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS, and should not be encouraged for use.

Room Set Up

It is recommended to place the portable crib in parent’s room for at least the first six months of life, ideally for the first year.

The portable crib should be placed away from windows, drapes, curtains, corded blinds, electric cords, vents, radiators, and space heaters.

The temperature in baby’s room should be set between 68-72 degrees.


We have discussed the ABCs of safe sleep, however, there is a D and E as well.


The D is for don't smoke.

Smoking around the baby or near their environment can cause secondhand and thirdhand smoke health concerns causing baby to constantly breathe in carcinogens from smoke, vape, etc.

There are resources available if you or a family member would like to quit smoking such as the Ohio Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) or a local Baby & Me Tobacco Free program for pregnant mothers.

Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of SIDS.

Do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke around baby. This includes cigarettes, hookahs, vapes, or smoke pens.

If unable to quit or unable to convince household member to quit, simply smoke outside and change clothes, wash your hands and brush your teeth before handling baby.

You should avoid smoke and nicotine exposure during pregnancy and after birth to reduce the risk of SIDS.

You should also avoid alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth to reduce the risk of SIDS.



And finally, the E stands for educate everyone.

There is a percentage of safe sleep deaths that occur outside of the care of immediate family, such as daycares, babysitters, extended family, etc.

We want to ensure everyone who is watching the baby is educated or informed on the ABC(DE)s of safe sleep. We want parents to advocate for themselves and for their babies' lives.

Talk about safe sleep with your:

  • Child care providers
  • Parents
  • Family members/Friends
  • Babysitters


Take the Quiz

TRUE or FALSE: Babies are safest sleeping in an adult bed

TRUE or FALSE: Babies need blankets in their crib to keep them warm

Ideally, how long should babies sleep in the same room as their caregivers?

Babies should be placed on their _____ to sleep