Safe Sleep - Simple as ABC


It is not uncommon for parents to have questions about newborn sleep behaviors and safety. Most of them are concerned about doing everything that they can to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, or positional asphyxia. Many practical steps can be taken to help protect your child against those conditions, but today we are focusing on the ABC’s of safe sleep. The ABC’s are based on tips for safe sleeping recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and provides a simple acrostic for three important components of keeping your child safe while they sleep.


It is an excellent idea to allow your newborn to sleep in the same room with you because it helps to ensure you will hear them when they wake up during the night. Additionally, it is considerably easier to manage middle of the night feedings when your baby is right there with you. However, the A in the ABC’s of safe sleep stands for Alone which means that while your child can sleep in the same room with you, the safest place for them is not to be sleeping in the bed with you. Along with sleeping alone, your baby’s sleep area should be free from items such as bumpers, loose bedding, and toys because these all substantially increase your child’s risk of suffocation or entrapment.

On Their Back

The B in the safe sleep ABC’s stands for Back because, for your infant, sleeping on their back is the safest position for them. It is perfectly okay to allow your child to play on their stomach during awake times (in fact tummy time is greatly encouraged) but until your baby can roll over unassisted and appropriately position their head while on their belly, suffocation is a serious risk.  Tummy time during the day can help your child develop their core muscles and head strength so that when they begin rolling over on their own, they can maintain safe positioning.

In Their Crib

The final letter in the acrostic is Crib which encompasses the specifications of your child’s sleep environment. Newborns should only be allowed to sleep in a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards. The sleep surface in the crib should be firm as a soft mattress can potentially pose a hazard should your baby roll over in the middle of the night. Similarly, if their head sinks into the mattress material (even when on their back), it could restrict their ability to breathe. It is also advised to avoid sleep positioning devices because their effectiveness is inconclusive and in some cases, they can be a threat to your child’s health should they roll out of the apparatus.