Safe Infant Sleep is as Easy as ABC

Babies are always counting on us for protection, which can seem extremely overwhelming, especially when you're sleep deprived or a new parent. That's why it's so nice to know that the key to safe sleep is as simple as ABC. The motto stands for Alone, Back, Crib and has been shown to effectively reduce infant deaths.

In a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study, close to 4,000 sudden unexplained infant deaths happened in just one calendar year in the U.S. with about 50 percent due to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). SIDS occurs because babies can't wake themselves up when they are having trouble breathing, and infants who sleep on their stomachs are more vulnerable to SIDS.

This number is tragic, but it was once double the amount. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) created the original standards in 1994, and they've continued to evolve the recommendations over the years in response to studies, products, and medical referrals. Since 1994, "SIDS rates in the United States have decreased by almost 50 percent, both overall and within various racial/ethnic groups," NICHD notes.

What Does ABC Really Mean?

We have partnered with Cradle Cincinnati, as part of the healthcare network's mission to pioneer patient- and family-centered care. Launched in June 2013, Cradle is a local, non-profit that is working to significantly decrease infant deaths across Hamilton County.

Together, the two groups emphasize the ABC building blocks of safe sleep.

  • ALONE means without blankets, stuffed animals, sleep positioners, crib bumpers, or family members.

  • Babies should be placed on their BACK every time they sleep, which will help them naturally wake when in jeopardy.

  • The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a CRIB with a firm mattress that fits snuggly into the frame. Use a tight, fitted crib sheet. Ohio offers free cribs to those who need them; call 211 or check out the Cradle Cincinnati site.

Still Have Questions?

If you are worried about the safety and ease of ABC, our team will help answer your questions and provide suggestions for safe sleep. We were recently recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a "Gold Safe Sleep Champion", the highest designation available, for its commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep.  You can also find PSAs and brochures in multiple languages on the Ohio.gov site.

People often worry about placing babies to sleep on their backs for fear that the baby will spit up and choke. Rest assured as experts agree, that babies are actually less likely to choke when placed on their backs due to the position of the esophagus and windpipe. Don't worry if your baby doesn't like to sleep on their back at first, most will quickly get used to it. Finally, be aware that babies may safely roll off of their backs while asleep once they turn 4 to 6 months. The important thing is to start a baby's sleep on the back to reduce the risk of SIDS and always follow the ABCs to reduce the risk of infant death.

For questions on safe sleep or any pediatric concerns, contact The Christ Hospital at 513-585-2155.