Press Releases


HEALTH Urges Parents and Caregivers to put their Babies "Safe to Sleep" for Every Sleep

Every year, Rhode Island babies die from sleeping in unsafe environments. During Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month this October, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) urges expectant parents and everyone who cares for a baby younger than age one to learn how to put their baby "safe to sleep" for every sleep.

"Sudden infant death syndrome is the third-leading cause of death for Rhode Island babies, and many sudden deaths are due to how a baby sleeps," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "These sleep-related deaths are even more tragic because they could have been prevented. You can reduce the risk of sudden infant death by making sure you and everyone who cares for your baby, including grandparents, babysitters, and child care providers, follow national safe infant sleep recommendations for naps and at night."

The National Institutes of Health recently launched its Safe to Sleep campaign in response to rising rates of sleep-related infant deaths over the past decade. The campaign promotes the following American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment:

• Always place your baby on his back to sleep, for naps and at night. • Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet. • Have the baby share your room, not your bed. Do not let your baby sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else. • Keep soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area. • For pregnant women, get regular healthcare during pregnancy and do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born. • Do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby. • Breastfeed your baby. • Give your baby a dry pacifier that is not attached to a string for naps and at night. Wait until your baby is breastfeeding well before trying a pacifier. • Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper, and do not use a blanket. • Follow healthcare provider guidance on your baby's vaccines and regular health checkups. • Avoid products (including home heart or breathing monitors) that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. • Give your baby plenty of Tummy Time (time on her stomach) when she is awake and someone is watching.

HEALTH is working with home visiting agencies, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program agencies, birthing hospitals, baby stores, community-based coalitions and organizations, and the state's Child Death Review Team to raise awareness of safe infant sleep recommendations among expectant and new parents, caregivers of infants, and healthcare and social service providers.

Families who would like help in their homes to create safe sleep areas for their babies can request a free home visit by calling their local First Connections agency:

• Central Falls, Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence: Children's Friend, 401-721-6400 • Northern Rhode Island: Family Resources Community Action, 401-766-0900 • South County, Warwick, West Warwick: VNS Home Health Services, 401-782-0500 • East Bay, Jamestown, Aquidneck Island: VNS of Newport and Bristol Counties, 401-682-2100

More information:

• HEALTH website: or (Spanish) • Follow HEALTH on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Pinterest ( • News resources and free downloadable media from the national Safe to Sleep campaign: • American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement:

# # #

Related links

Share this: