Skip to main content

Safe Sleep, Safe Babies

Baby yawning

There are about 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths each year in the U.S., with Black infants dying nearly twice the rate of white infants. While the number of deaths has reduced since the problem was first recognized, one death is one too many. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and many other health care organizations have made clear recommendations to help keep your infant safe while sleeping. Children's Mercy wants to help keep your child safe through our Safe Sleep, Safe Babies initiative.

Remember your ABCs

A: Alone
B: Back
C: Crib

Until your infant's first birthday, they should sleep alone, on their back, and in their crib for naptime and bedtime. We know that infants who sleep on their stomachs are at a much higher risk of dying than on their backs. Infants who are placed on their sides are more likely to roll over onto their stomachs, so side sleeping is not recommended.

Some parents worry that an infant on its back will choke, but the infant's airway anatomy and gag reflex will prevent that from happening. Even infants with gastroesophageal reflux (GER) should sleep on their backs. To see the position of a baby's airway while sleeping, watch this The Cribs for Kids® video.

Once your infant is able to roll from their back to their tummy and then roll to their back again, you do not need to reposition them. But always put them down to sleep on their back when they first go to bed.

The ABCs of Infant Safe Sleep (English)
Los ACB del sueño seguro infantil (Subtítulos en español)

Infant sleep recommendations

Your infant should sleep alone on a firm surface. This can be in one of the following:

  • A crib with a firm, non-inclined sleep surface and tight fitted sheet.
  • A portable crib or a bassinet (if it does not have padding along the sides).

To avoid the risk of suffocation and strangulation, these items should not be left in your infant's crib:

  • Loose blankets
  • Pillows
  • Stuffed animals
  • Toys

The following places are not recommended for your infant to sleep:

  • Swing
  • Car seat
  • Bouncy chair

While sharing a bed with your infant is not recommended, we do recommend your infant share a room with you or their caregiver(s). This makes it easier to see your infant while keeping a separate sleep surface for your child.

For a full list of infant sleep recommendations, please visit the following websites:

Breastfeed Your Baby to Reduce the Risk of SIDS (Full Length with Audio Descriptions)
Amamantar a su bebé reduce el riesgo del síndrome de muerte súbita (Completo con audiodescripciones)

Community partners

  • Amethyst Place
  • CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Association)
  • Center for Childhood Safety - Children's Mercy
  • Charlie’s House
  • Department of Environmental Health - Children’s Mercy
  • Easterseals Midwest
  • Front Porch Alliance (FPA)
  • Healing House
  • Healthy Blue Missouri
  • Healthy Families America Home Visiting - Children’s Mercy
  • Juneteenth KC
  • Kansas City Police Department
  • Lakewood Family Birthplace - University Health
  • Missouri Children’s Division
  • Mother’s Refuge
  • Northland Infant Clothing Center
  • Nurture KC
  • Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City
  • Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center
  • Sheffield Place
  • Swope Health - Children’s Services
  • Synergy Services
  • TIES (Team for Infants Exposed to Substance Abuse) Home Visiting - Children’s Mercy

Additional resources

If your infant has not reached their first birthday and you do not have a safe place for your infant to sleep (crib, portable crib, bassinet), please contact one of the below agencies. *These agencies can provide you with a safe sleep kit, which includes a Pack 'N Play.

*You must live in one of the following Missouri counties to receive a safe sleep kit:

  • Andrew
  • Clay
  • Jackson
  • Ray
  • Atchison
  • Clinton
  • Johnson
  • Saline
  • Buchanan
  • Daviess
  • Lafayette
  • Worth
  • Caldwell
  • DeKalb
  • Livingston


  • Carroll
  • Gentry
  • Nodaway


  • Cass
  • Holt
  • Platte

Map of counties in Missouri with 21 colored in blue to show the counties that one must live in to receive a safe sleep kit.

Get your license to care

The Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) ‘Prevent Child Abuse’ license plate promotes awareness about the need to protect children, and funds programs throughout Missouri that aim to reduce sleep-related infant deaths through safe crib distribution, education, public awareness, and community engagement. Learn more about how to get your License to Care at

Children’s Trust Fund logo with two green handprints. Logo reads: Children’s Trust Fund, Missouri’s Foundation For Child Abuse Prevention, Strong Families, Safe Kids.Missouri license plate with two green handprints. License plate reads: KIDS, Children’s’ Trust Fund, “Prevent Child Abuse.”