Welcoming a new baby into your home can be a wonderful — and scary — time. You want to do your best to keep your baby safe and healthy, and there’s so much to learn.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation. There is no known way to prevent SIDS. But you can take actions that reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of death.

Here are four tips to help keep your baby safe.

  1. Place your baby on his or her back—at naptime and nighttime. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their sides or stomachs. Since this recommendation was put in place in 1994, SIDS rates for the U.S. have dropped steadily among all racial and ethnic groups.
  2. Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib. You might feel your baby would be more comfortable sleeping on a soft surface. However, soft surfaces can increase the risk of sleep-related death. A firm sleep surface helps reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
  3. Keep soft bedding and toys out of your baby’s sleep area. Top sheets, comforters, blankets and bumpers can increase the risk of suffocation or overheat your baby. Wearable blankets or sleep sacks can help keep your baby warm without restricting movement or making him or her too hot. Stuffed animals and soft toys may seem soothing, but save them for when baby is awake.
  4. Have your baby share your room, not your bed. Accidental suffocation or strangulation can happen when a baby sleeps in an adult bed or another place not meant for a baby. Sharing a room with your baby is much safer than sharing a bed and, according to the CDC, may decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.

To learn more on how to keep your baby safe, visit the Safe to Sleep website or speak with your child’s pediatrician.