New York State Department of Health Recognizes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month

Department Raises Awareness About Importance of Safe Sleep Practices

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 13, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month by educating residents about the condition and the importance of safe sleep practices for infants. In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Remembrance Day, observed October 15, the Department also offers support to families and individuals affected by pregnancy and infant loss.

"The wound of losing a child is a pain I hope no one ever has to bear," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Too many of our precious babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome every year. A safe sleep environment can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death, such as suffocation. All families and caregivers should follow the ABCs of infant safe sleep by ensuring the infant is put to sleep ALONE, on their BACK, in a CRIB, and in a SMOKE-FREE environment for every sleep."

SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation. Unsafe sleep and SIDS are the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age, with most deaths occurring when a baby is between two and four months old. Each year in New York State, more than 120 infants die of sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS, ill-defined deaths, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. Safe sleep practices and breastfeeding/human milk feeding have been shown to decrease SIDS risk.

The Department encourages parents and caregivers to follow infant safe sleep practices for every sleep, including:

  • Placing a baby to sleep ALONE, not with adults, other children, or pets. No items should be in the baby's crib. Remove pillows, bumper pads, blankets, and toys.
  • Putting a baby on his or her BACK to sleep – even if the baby was born early (premature).
  • Using a safety-approved CRIB. Babies should never be placed to sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, chair, car seat, or nursing pillow.
  • Keeping a baby's environment SMOKE-FREE.
  • Sharing a room, not a bed with baby. Room-sharing allows parents or caregivers to keep a close watch over a baby while preventing accidents that may occur when a baby is sleeping in an adult bed.

Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, "When we lay our children down to rest, the last thing we expect is to then face unspeakable tragedy. This makes it all the more important to remember that unsafe sleep deaths are the most common type of preventable child fatality brought to the attention of Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). To make sure caregivers are equipped with the knowledge and resources to prevent this, we are proud to partner with DOH on safe sleep awareness campaigns and provide information on how eligible families can obtain safe, secure cribs at no cost. OCFS also delivers "Pack N Play" portable cribs to local agencies across the State for families who may not have the resources to obtain them. We continue to develop new strategies that educate caregivers on the dangers of co-sleeping, and encourage safe sleep practices, knowing these are key to protecting precious young lives."

Information about SIDS and safe sleep practices may be found here.