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Back to Sleep

Reducing the Risk of SIDS


Updated June 02, 2014

The incidence of SIDS has fallen greatly since the introduction of the back-to-sleep campaign, which is by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), First Candle/SIDS Alliance, and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs.

Back to Sleep

The biggest gains in reducing the rates of SIDS came with the recommendation that all babies be put to sleep on their back - the 'Back-to-Sleep' campaign that began in 1994. Since then, the rate of SIDS has decreased by just over 50 percent.

Unfortunately, the incidence of SIDS has plateaued since then. The original back-to-sleep SIDS policy statement from the AAP Task Force on Infant Position and SIDS came out in 1992 and was simply named "Positioning and SIDS." It stated that 'the Academy recommends that healthy infants, when being put down for sleep, be positioned on their side or back.'

The next report on SIDS came out in 2000 and it made recommendations about other risk factors, including soft sleep surfaces and loose bedding, overheating, and maternal smoking. The 2000 SIDS report also stated that back sleeping was preferred over side sleeping.

The 2005 SIDS report from the AAP, 'The Changing Concept of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Diagnostic Coding Shifts, Controversies Regarding the Sleeping Environment, and New Variables to Consider in Reducing Risk,' ended the side vs. back issue. The new recommendation became that infants should be put to sleep wholly on their back.

The Latest SIDS Recommendations

With their latest, 2011 SIDS recommentions, the AAP is focusing on safe sleep environments, in addition to talking about back-to-sleep recommendations.

They now also talk about the protective role of breastfeeding and the importance of vaccinations and prenatal care.

Like the advice from the AAP, the FDA offers the following guidelines to reduce a baby's risk of SIDS:

  • Alone in their own bed.
  • Back to sleep - every sleep.
  • Crib.
An even easier way to remember the ABCs of reducing the risk of SIDS is to think - Alone on the Back in a bare Crib.


American Academy of Pediatrics Technical Report: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics 2011; 128:5 e1341-e1367.

American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics 2011; 128:5 1030-1039.

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