A new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that a high rate of unsafe infant sleep practices is reported by mothers in the U.S. For the report, “Vital Signs: Trends and Disparities in Infant Safe Sleep Practices — United States, 2009–2015,” the CDC examined data from the 2015 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System.

Results show that 21.6 percent of respondents reported placing their infant to sleep on the baby’s side or stomach. More than half of respondents – 61.4% percent – reported bed sharing with their infant, and 38.5 percent reported using soft bedding, most commonly bumper pads and thick blankets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents create a safe sleep environment for infants by:

  • Placing infants on their back to sleep
  • Using a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress
  • Room-sharing without bed-sharing
  • Avoiding soft bedding such as blankets, pillows and bumper pads

The AAP also recommends breastfeeding; routine immunization; use of a pacifier; and the avoidance of exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

The CDC reports that there are approximately 3,500 sleep-related deaths among infants each year in the United States. These deaths include those from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and unknown causes.

“Unfortunately, too many babies in this country are lost to sleep-related deaths that might be prevented,” CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in a press release.

Visit the Safe Sleep for Babies page on the CDC website for additional information.

CDC infographic Safe Sleep for Babies