The Danger of Sleeping in Bed with Babies

Hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of parents sleeping in the same bed with their babies, child advocacy organizations have launched a major educational and marketing campaign throughout Los Angeles County.

The statistics are chilling: every five days, a baby in Los Angeles County suffocates while sleeping. Over the last four years, 278 babies in the county have died from sleep suffocation — more than all other accidental deaths of children under the age of 14.  These deaths are silent and quick—and completely preventable. Sleep suffocation is most common among Latino and African-American families.

The Safe Sleep for Baby Campaign, which is also in Spanish and was created by the Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and First 5 L.A, encourages parents to share a room, not a bed and to place the baby in a crib or bassinet. Parents are also advised to lay babies on their back, without pillows, blankets, bumpers or toys.  Accidental suffocation is the greatest risk for babies under the age of one.

Here are some answers for common questions on safe sleeping techniques:

  • Is it safe to put a baby to sleep in a car seat or stroller?
    No, because of the way the baby is positioned in these carriers. Babies should always be placed on  the  back to sleep.
  • Can I swaddle my baby?
    Yes,  but be sure to use a light receiving blanket , as other kinds, such as San Marcos blankets, can be too heavy and warm for infants. Once babies reach 5-6 months, swaddling is no longer needed and parents can simply continue to dress their baby in a onesie or sleeper. 
  • What if I am breastfeeding?
    Breastfeeding is encouraged and  nursing mothers should place their baby in a crib or bassinet after nursing. 
  • What if my baby likes sleeping on his stomach?
    The safest way for babies to sleep is on the back. When babies sleep on their stomachs  or sides , they can  more easily choke or suffocate.
  • My baby has trouble breathing – what’s the best way to put my baby to sleep?
    If your baby has a medical condition, talk to your doctor about any special care your child may need.

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