October Is National Safe Sleep Awareness Month

Published on October 06, 2023, 4:11 pm
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In recognition of “National Safe Sleep Awareness Month,” NYC is dedicated to helping new families support their infants. The NYC Administration for Children’s Services today announced that its dedicated “Office of Child Safety & Injury Prevention” will be hosting Safe Sleep Information and Resource Fairs throughout the month of October. At the fairs, ACS will conduct crib demonstrations that simulate a safe sleeping environment for infants and distribute information and resources to support families to adopt strategies to keep infants up to a year old safe while sleeping. Babies should always sleep alone on their backs, and in a safety-approved crib – whether sleeping through the night or taking a nap.

“Throughout the month, ACS will be hosting Safe Sleep Information and Resource Fairs to help get this life-saving message out to as many families as we can: babies should sleep alone on their backs and in a crib,” said ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser.  “When it comes to putting babies to sleep safely, less is more: cribs should be free of pillows, blankets, and toys, which can put sleeping babies at greater risk. We also know from the experts that it is safest for babies to sleep on their backs and in a crib.”

“As a parent like many of you, my child’s safety, no matter their age, is top priority,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan.  “The Health Department joins with ACS in helping all New Yorkers have the resources they need to keep their babies safe. Most deaths related to infant sleep are preventable. Our New Family Home Visits Initiative provides safe sleep education and cribs to families who need them.”

“Safe Sleep Awareness Month is a crucial time to remind New Yorkers of the simple steps they can take to keep their children safe at home,” said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Thank you to the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for making sure caregivers and families have the information and resources they need to keep infants safe during Safe Sleep Month, and all year long.”

The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene conducts routine monitoring of sleep-related infant injury deaths each year in New York City. Tragically, in New York City, nearly 36 babies die each year from suffocation and other preventable sleep-related injuries. From 2016 to 2020, there were 185 sleep-related infant injury deaths. A sleep-related injury death is the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year old that occurs because of where and/or how they sleep. Sleep-related infant injury death is not the same as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) or “crib death.” SIDS is the natural death of a baby that cannot be explained after careful medical review of the case. Unlike SIDS, sleep-related infant injury deaths are preventable.

All babies younger than 1 year are at risk of dying from a sleep-related injury. Babies who are most at risk include those born preterm and babies younger than 4 months. These babies lack the body strength to move out of dangerous situations and may have health conditions that make them more vulnerable. Most deaths related to infant sleeping are preventable. Below are some ways in which families can create a safe sleep environment for their babies:

  • Avoid bringing the baby into bed with you, even if you think it will keep the baby warmer. If parents are worried about their baby getting cold, dress them in a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack, or in another layer of infant clothing. If you have heating problems in your home and your landlord hasn’t fixed them, call 311.
  • A baby should never sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair with anyone. Babies can suffocate if another person accidently rolls on top of them or covers their nose and mouth or, more commonly, if their baby rolls into a sleeping adult and is unable to roll away.
  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any other items that could increase the risk of suffocation out of the baby’s sleep area.
  • Place babies on their backs to sleep. Babies breathe better on their backs than on their stomachs or sides.
  • Put babies to bed in a flat, firm sleep surface with a fitted sheet made for that specific product. Though it might seem more comfortable to put a pillow on top of the mattress, babies are at a higher risk of suffocating on the soft surface.
  • Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth. Babies exposed to cigarette smoke during pregnancy or after birth are at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths. If you smoke, learn about resources available to help you quit.

If you are a new parent and need assistance, the New Family Home Visits Initiative offers support, services, and referrals to new and expectant parents. Through this initiative, a trained health worker — such as a nurse, doula, or community health worker — makes in-person or virtual visits to the home of a parent who is pregnant or has an infant or young child. These resources include cribs for families who need them, and other infant safety equipment.

For more information on infant safe sleep best practices or resources in your community, visit: nyc.gov/safesleep or Infant Sleep Safety – NYC Health. You can also call 311 and ask for Safe Sleep.

The full list of Safe Sleep Information Resource Fairs can be found below. Media should RSVP to mediainquiry@acs.nyc.gov.


DOHMH will also be hosting in-person Family Wellness Suite Car Seat Safety Classes throughout the month. The full list of those classes can be found below.


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