Here are recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related deaths from birth to age 1:
Get prenatal care. Routine prenatal care is critical for reducing the risk for SIDS.
Breastfeed your infant. The AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least six months.
Make sure your baby is immunized. An infant who is fully immunized can reduce his or her risk for SIDS by 50 percent.
Place your infant on his or her back for sleep or naps. This can decrease the risk for SIDS, aspiration, and choking. Never place your baby on his or her side or stomach for sleep or naps. If your baby is awake, allow your child time on his or her tummy as long as you are supervising,to encourage appropriate motor development.
Always talk with your baby's doctor if he or she has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux. Do not raise the head of the crib.
Consider offering your baby a pacifier for sleeping or naps, if he or she isn't breastfed. If breastfeeding, delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.
Use a firm mattress (covered by a tightly fitted sheet) to prevent gaps between the mattress and the sides of a crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. This can decrease the risk for entrapment, suffocation, and SIDS.
Share your room instead of your bed with your baby. Putting your baby in bed with you raises the risk for strangulation, suffocation, entrapment, and SIDS. Bed sharing is not recommended for twins or other higher multiples.
Avoid using infant seats, car seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings for routine sleep and daily naps. These may lead to obstruction of an infant's airway or suffocation.
Avoid using illicit drugs and alcohol, and don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
Avoid overbundling, overdressing, or covering an infant's face or head. This will prevent him or her from getting overheated, reducing the risks for SIDS.
Avoid using loose bedding or soft objects including bumper pads, pillows, comforters, blankets in an infant's crib or bassinet to help prevent suffocation, strangulation, entrapment, or SIDS.
Do not rely on cardiorespiratory monitors to prevent SIDS. Avoid commercial devices—wedges, positioners, and special mattresses that are advertised as helping decrease the risk for SIDS and sleep-related infant deaths.
Always place cribs, bassinets, and play yards in hazard-free areas—those with no dangling cords or wires—to reduce the risk for strangulation.
Some safety hazards apply to all children. However, many problems are especially dangerous for children at a particular age or stage of development.
Keep the following precautions in mind for your children as they grow.
Secure doors that lead to stairways, driveways, and storage areas.
Never leave a child alone in a bathtub, wading pool, or other body of water.
Lock medicines away immediately after use.
Lock kerosene, pesticides, and toxic cleaning products in a safe place.
Buy age-appropriate toys that are too large to swallow.
Don't leave your child alone around burning fireplaces, heaters, or other hot appliances.
Provide constant supervision.
Store dangerous tools and gardening equipment in a locked shed or cabinet.
Keep matches and cigarette lighters locked up and out of sight.