Every month, a healthy baby in Pinellas County suffocates while sleeping unsafely.

All of these deaths could have been prevented. Don’t risk it! Learn the tips and facts to sleep babies safely — every night, every nap, and every time.

Sleep Baby Safely Tip


  • Always put babies to sleep alone on their back in an empty crib, bassinet, or Pack n’ Play.
  • Remove all items from crib (i.e. blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and bumper pads) – use only a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.
  • Use a one-piece sleeper or sleep sack to keep baby warm.
Sleep Baby Safely Tip


  • Bring crib into parent’s room for baby’s first year — room sharing keeps baby close without the risks.
  • Never put baby to sleep on soft surfaces like adult beds, couches, futons, recliners, or air mattresses.
Sleep Baby Safely Tip


  • Set an alarm and always return baby to crib after feeding.
  • Breastfeed if possible — it’s best for baby’s protection.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around baby, and avoid misuse of alcohol or drugs.

Every Month A Healthy Baby Suffocates From Sleeping Unsafely

  • Suffocation from unsafe sleep is the #1 cause of preventable child death.
  • As many children die from unsafe sleep suffocation before their first birthday as die in the next 17 years from all other preventable causes combined.
  • In the past 10 years, 102 babies in Pinellas County have suffocated while sleeping unsafely – that’s about 6 kindergarten classrooms of children!

More Infants Die in Adult Beds Than Anywhere Else

  • Two-thirds of infant sleep-related deaths happened when parents shared a bed with their baby (co-sleeping).
  • Infants are 40x more likely to die in adult beds than in their own cribs.
  • Other soft surfaces like couches, futons, recliners, and air mattresses pose suffocation risks as well.

Cause of Death Is Suffocation — Not SIDS

  • The District Six Medical Examiner has not determined a cause of death as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in over 17 years.
  • SIDS denotes the cause of death is unknown. However, when a healthy baby dies a sleep-related death, we know the cause of death is frequently suffocation or overlay from co-sleeping.
  • Knowing this fact, you can protect babies by always laying them down to sleep safely.

Sleeping Babies on Their Back Is Safest

  • Some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs but their airway anatomy and gag reflex prevents this.
  • When babies sleep on their backs, the trachea (windpipe) lies on top of the esophagus, so gravity stops spit-up from getting into the windpipe.
  • Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to choke and less likely to have their airways (breathing) blocked.

The First Year of a Baby’s Life Is Critical

  • Sleep-related suffocation deaths generally happen in baby’s first year – most within the first 8 months.
  • At birth, babies have heavy heads and weak neck muscles; this makes it difficult for them to lift their heads to breathe freely if airways are blocked.
  • While babies develop differently, most can lift their heads at 4 months – and by 5 or 6 months, they have mastered head control and can roll over in both directions thanks to stronger neck and arm muscles.

We Know More Today Than We Ever Have

  • As more information becomes available, we must change old practices and beliefs to keep babies safe while sleeping.
  • We changed our habits about car seats; today they are proven life savers and most parents wouldn’t risk driving baby without one – even if they’ve never had an accident.
  • Using this same logic, let’s make safe sleep for infants as common a safety practice as car seats.