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April 3, 2018

Make sure your baby is safe sleeping, every sleep

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The term "SIDS" (sudden infant death syndrome) sounds scary and the death of a child is one of the most heart-wrenching and enduring losses a person can experience. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) wants parents to know there are many ways to lower your baby's risk of death during sleep while giving them the best care possible.

In South Carolina, six infants die each month from unsafe sleep. Babies are at risk of sleep-related deaths until they are a year old, and most deaths occur when babies are between 1 and 4 months of age.

There are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US babies each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 22 percent of mothers reported not placing their baby on their back to sleep, as recommended. Additionally, about 39 percent of mothers reported using soft bedding (not recommended) when placing babies to sleep.

Simple Actions Can Make a Big Difference

It's important for parents and all caregivers to know and share the ABCs of safe sleep. Simple, consistent actions can make a big difference in keeping your baby safe.

    ALONE- Babies should sleep alone in their own safe sleep space such as a crib or bassinet with a firm, flat mattress. For the first year of life, baby should have a separate safe sleep space in the parent's room. BACK- Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back, both for naps and at night. Placing babies on their backs to sleep is one of the most important ways to prevent SIDS. CRIB- Make sure that the crib or bassinet you're using is safety approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and that the crib is bare. Remove all pillows, blankets soft toys, or bumpers.

Additional Safety Tips

  • Do not use cribs made before 2011: Older cribs may not meet current safety standards.
  • Do not use altered cribs: Cribs that are broken or modified, or that have gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and mattress can be dangerous.
  • Keep sleeping space away from cords: Do not place a crib or bassinet near a window with blinds or curtain cords. Babies can strangle on these items.
  • Set a timer: When feeding your baby, set an alarm or timer on your phone to ensure you stay awake.
  • No objects in sleeping space: Remove all bumper pads, blankets, toys, pillows and other objects from the baby's crib or bassinet.
  • Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth. Do not use drugs or alcohol while caring for baby.
  • Dress baby for the room environment to avoid over-heating.
  • Be sure that baby has all immunizations recommended by his or her physician.
  • Regular prenatal care and breastfeeding can reduce your baby's risk of SIDS Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either along or sleeping with another person.

You can learn more about infant sleep safety at


DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769