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Child Safety for All Ages

Reducing the risk for SIDS

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 decrease the chances that your child will develop a flat head.

  • Always talk with your baby's doctor before raising the head of their crib if he or she has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux.

  • Offer 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—bumper pads, pillows, comforters, blankets—in an infant's crib or bassinet to help prevent suffocation, strangulation, entrapment, or SIDS.

  • Avoid using cardiorespiratory monitors and commercial devices—wedges, positioners, and special mattresses—to help 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. 

Other safety precautions

Some safety hazards apply to all children. But 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.

Birth to 8 months:

  • Never leave a child alone on a changing table, bed, or sofa. Children can fall as soon as they can roll over.

  • Use gates on stairways and install window guards on all windows above the first floor as soon as your baby can crawl.

  • Never leave small objects within your baby's reach.

  • Put your baby to sleep face up to prevent suffocation and reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • Never carry hot liquids or food, or cook, while holding your child.

8 to 12 months:

  • Keep pins and other sharp objects off the floor and out of your baby's reach.

  • Install safety plugs in wall sockets.

  • Remove easily overturned lamps and dangling electrical cords.

  • Place soft adhesive bumpers on the corners of sharp-edged furniture.

  • Place a gate across stairways to keep the baby from falling down stairs.

  • Keep medicines and poisons in a locked cabinet. Install child locks on cabinets.

  • Be sure baby furniture and toys are painted with lead-free paint. Buy age-appropriate toys that are too large to swallow.

  • Never leave your baby alone in the bath; keep one hand on the child at all times.

12 to 36 months:

  • 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.

Ages 3 to 6:

  • Teach your child the right way to use simple kitchen tools and appliances.

  • Teach bicycle safety rules and traffic dangers.

  • Start swimming lessons. Never leave a child unsupervised around a pool or other body of water, even if the child has had swimming lessons.

Ages 6 to 12:

  • Insist that your child wear a helmet when cycling or other appropriate times. Children should wear helmets and wrist and kneepads while skating and skateboarding.

  • Teach proper use of more complex kitchen appliances.

  • Be sure your child uses well-fitting, well-maintained sports equipment when practicing or playing a game.

  • Teach your child basic first aid and what to do in an emergency.