Where Baby Sleeps

When it comes to safe sleep, your baby should sleep: alone in their own crib or bassinet that is near their parents’ or caregiver’s bed. On their back, not on their side or stomach. On a firm sleep surface, such as a firm crib mattress covered with a well-fitted sheet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that your baby sleeps alone in their own crib or bassinet that is near their parent’s or caregiver’s bed. Because your baby’s sleeping environment plays a role in their safety, be sure to follow the following suggestions on where baby sleeps.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that your baby should sleep: alone in their own crib or bassinet, on their back, and on a firm sleep surface. The DockATot is designed to allow your baby to do just that. With breathable air mesh sides, a soft bumpers, and a multi-functional cover, this portable lounger comfortably supports your little one during tummy time, cuddle time, and naptime.

Babies sleep safest on their back, in their own crib or bassinet. This should be placed near the parent’s or caregiver’s bed so they can quickly respond to baby’s needs. Baby should always sleep on a firm mattress and fitted sheet with no pillows, blankets, toys, or crib bumpers.

Your baby should sleep: Alone in their own crib or bassinet

Your baby needs a safe sleep environment, and the safest place for them to sleep is on their back, in a crib next to your bed.

Whether you are just starting to shop for cribs or your baby is already home from the hospital, you probably have been thinking a lot about where your newborn will sleep. Of course, you want your baby to sleep soundly and comfortably—maybe even for a few uninterrupted hours at a time! But safety should be the top concern.

Implementing safe sleep practices is essential to protecting your baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other accidents. “Sleep-related deaths are a leading cause of death in children less than 1 year of age,” says Sarah Denny, MD, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University School of Medicine. “Providing a safe sleep environment is the most important thing caregivers can do to prevent these tragic deaths.”

If you have been wondering where your baby can sleep safely—as well as what locations are dangerous—we break down safe sleep guidelines for babies according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Here is what you need to know about the best places and practices for putting your baby down to sleep through their first year.When Should Your Baby Sleep Through the Night?

The AAP recommends infants share a parents’ room, but not a bed, “ideally for a year, but at least for six months” to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Approximately 3,700 infants died of sleep-related causes in 2015, including 1,600 from SIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although this recommendation has technically been part of AAP policy for years, it was largely overlooked due to the policy’s wording until last October, when new recommendations were released.Sponsor Message

At the time, some prominent pediatricians questioned the evidence behind it. Among the skeptics was Ian Paul, lead author of the new study published Monday in Pediatrics.

“It’s important for the Academy to have strong evidence and not just expert opinion to support our recommendations because these guidelines have such influence on practice and on parenting and child health,” Paul says. “One of the reasons we wanted to explore this is that the evidence is really weak for 6 to 12 months. I think in [the Academy’s] strong desire to prevent every single case of SIDS, they have looked at the data with a biased perspective.”

Paul analyzed data from 230 families participating in a randomized, controlled trial for up to 2 years. Half the mothers were encouraged to consider moving their children at 3 months old to wherever the child would sleep at 1 year old. The other half received intensive advice on reducing SIDS risk, in which nurses visited the home and provided specific feedback on improving the safety of the sleep environment.

The percentage of infants sleeping in their parents’ room at 4 and 9 months old, however, didn’t end up differing between the groups. More than half the infants were sleeping in their own room by 4 months old, and just over a quarter were sleeping independently between 4 and 9 months

And infants who slept in their own rooms after 4 months slept for longer, in general. Nine-month-old room-sharing infants slept an average 9.75 hours per night, compared to 10.5 hours for those who began sleeping alone by 4 months and 10 hours for those who began sleeping alone between 4 and 9 months.


New Guidelines Acknowledge The Reality: Babies Do Sleep In Mom’s Bed

Infants who slept alone after 4 months also slept for longer stretches: 9 hours compared to 8.3 hours for those infants who slept in their parents’ room between 4 and 9 months and 7.4 hours for those who continued to share their parents’ room after 9 months old.

By 2.5 years old, all the children got a similar amount of total daily sleep, although those sharing their parents’ room through 9 months old got 45 minutes less at night.

Given these findings, Paul worries about unintended consequences of encouraging parents to keep children in their parents’ room until 1 year old.

“There are so many other factors in child and parent health that are consequences of this decision,” Paul says. He said it’s completely impractical for parents to start sending children to their own room at 1 year old, when separation anxiety peaks. “That’s the worst time to make a change from a developmental perspective.”

Experts in developmental infant sleep generally agree with him, according to Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Mindell founded the Pediatric Sleep Council’s website babysleep.com, a free resource of evidence-based information on children’s sleep.

“We want babies and parents to get a good night’s sleep because we know that will affect infant safety, infant development and family wellbeing,” Mindell says. “It’s a balance of trying to make sure babies are safe, everyone’s getting enough sleep and everyone’s developing appropriately.”

Past research has shown that infants sleep better, go to bed earlier and sleep for longer periods at a time when they sleep in their own rooms, Mindell says. In this new study as well, infants sleeping on their own at 4 months old were twice as likely to have a consistent bedtime and be in bed by 8 pm than the other infants. Families should feel free to decide without fear whether their babies sleep in the parents’ room or their own room, she says.

“I think the AAP guidelines unfortunately scare parents, and we don’t want parents scared and avoiding doing what’s going to work best for their family,” she says. “You don’t want parents resenting their child because they don’t get a break.”

The tension between what the AAP recommends and what parents feel works for their family isn’t new. Experts advised parents to put babies to sleep on their stomachs for decades until multiple studies revealed that it doubled the risk of SIDS. Since 1994, when pediatricians began recommending babies sleep on their backs, SIDS rates have halved, but some questioned the reversal of advice at the time. (Evidence didn’t bear out concerns that children with reflux might choke in their sleep.)

More recently, many parents have wrangled with the difficulty of following other AAP guidelines, such as the updated recommendations against bed-sharing, which nonetheless acknowledge that mothers often fall asleep in bed with their infant, and confusion about the safety of swaddling infants for sleep.

The updated recommendations on room-sharing were actually intended to offer parents some leeway after 6 months, says Rachel Moon, lead author of the AAP recommendations and head of pediatrics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

“We’re being as careful as we can,” Moon says. “Yes, it’s important that families get enough sleep. It’s also important that they have a baby that wakes up in the morning.”

But while there is ample evidence of risks from bed-sharing, evidence of risk from not sharing a room after the child is 6 months old — when fewer than 10 percent of SIDS deaths occur — is far weaker, Paul says.

“For a family affected by a death after six months, that’s a terrible loss, so I understand that perspective,” he says. Yet he notes that infant sleep deaths remain exceedingly rare, especially after 6 months old. For the 4 million children born each year, other risks from inadequate sleep in parents may be more serious, such as motor vehicle accidents, poorer bonding with their baby, marital strain and child abuse such as abusive head trauma (shaken baby syndrome), Paul says.

Parents, particularly moms, could also be at greater risk for postpartum depression and accidental injuries around the home without a solid night’s sleep, Mindell adds.

“These are all considerations when you take a family-centered perspective on infant sleep and don’t focus only on the relatively rare, yet certainly devastating, occurrence of SIDS,” Paul says. In fact, room-sharing after 4 months may even increase SIDS risk in other ways, his study shows. “One of the surprising things we found was the room-sharing parents had less-safe sleep practices,” Paul says.

Room-sharing infants were four times more likely to end up in their parents’ bed during the night than those sleeping independently by 4 months and 9 months old. The odds of risky items being in babies’ sleep environments, such as pillows, blankets and stuffed animals, also doubled for room-sharing infants at 4 months old.

Still, the AAP, which periodically updates its recommendations as new evidence emerges, is unlikely to change their recommendations at this time, Moon says. She acknowledges that downstream consequences are a valid concern but that too few data exist to know if they’re really happening.

“I haven’t looked at the data to say that if you’re room-sharing with your baby, there’s a higher risk of a car accident. I don’t know that that data is out there,” Moon says. “Sometimes there are things that seem like they’re related, but when you do the study, they’re not.”

She points to research showing that parents often underestimate the sleep they’re actually getting and that findings on parents’ sleep duration while room-sharing are “all over the place,” sometimes depending on whether the mother is breastfeeding or formula feeding.

“Yes, maybe parents are more sleep deprived if they are room-sharing, but we don’t know that for sure, and until we do, we cannot make policy based on anecdotal reports or perception or assumption,” Moon says. “I know it sounds one-sided, but our expertise is in [infant sleep deaths], so our job is to look at this from the SIDS perspective.”

But that’s the problem, Paul and Mindell say.

“They’re only looking at infant safety with this one lens in the extreme,” Mindell says. “It has to be balanced by the bigger picture.”

Moon also emphasizes that the AAP is “pretty persnickety at trying to base our recommendations on the literature.”

But Paul says the three European studies the AAP used to recommend room-sharing up to 1 year don’t actually support it. In one, the infants over 4 months old who died of SIDS were actually more likely to be room-sharing than sleeping in their own rooms. Another dates to the 1990s when stomach sleeping — a strong risk factor for SIDS — was much more common. And the average age of children in the third study was 3.5 months; only 15 of the 123 total infants who died of SIDS in that study were sleeping in their own room.

All this back-and-forth can leave parents confused and frustrated. Ben Hoffman, a pediatrician who specializes in injury prevention at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, says that’s the nature of creating broad public health recommendations with incomplete evidence.

“Good policy should be based on the best science,” he said, but science always involves a certain amount of uncertainty. “We try to do the best we can for the greatest number of kids with the information we have,” he explains, while ensuring “that policy recommendations will not be harmful.”

Ultimately, parents have to do the same thing: make the best decision they can with the information they have.

“The AAP has to err on the side of being conservative,” Mindell says, “but every family has to decide what works for them to be sure the baby is safe, that everyone is getting enough sleep and that everyone’s wellbeing is taken care of.”

What Should My Baby Sleep In?

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Ideally, for the first six months, your baby will sleep in their Moses basket or cot in the same room as you even for their daytime naps (Lullaby Trust, 2018). “In reality, babies often fall asleep in the car seat, pram or buggy, sling or anywhere they get comfy and fancy a snooze.”

Babies get less sleep at night and sleep for shorter stretches when they sleep in their parents’ room after 4 months old, a new study finds. Parents are also more likely to engage in unsafe sleep practices, such as bringing their child into their bed or leaving pillows, blankets or stuffed animals with the baby when the infant shares their room.

The findings appear to contradict recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for safe infant sleep, creating more confusion for parents trying to choose the safest, yet most practical and realistic, place for their babies to sleep.

Where Should I Put My Baby Down to Sleep?

According to the AAP, babies are safest sleeping in a standard-size crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).1 The CPSC issues mandatory safety standards for all of these products that are sold in the U.S.

For instance, the CPSC recommends not purchasing cribs manufactured before June 2011 because they most likely do not comply with new safety standards. That means that antique cribs or cribs passed down from other family members are probably not a safe place for your baby to sleep.2Featured Videohttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.508.0_debug_en.html#goog_16753770730 seconds of 1 minute, 58 secondsVolume 0%01:58 Everything You Need to Know About How to Make Baby Formula

Babies should always be placed on a firm mattress that was specifically designed for the crib, bassinet, or play yard. Nothing else should be in the crib with them including blankets, stuffed animals, and toys.1

“The big thing is that we want to try to help protect our little babies from dangers like choking, suffocation, and SIDS,” explains Nikki Smith, MEd, NCC, NCSC, CSWC, a certified pediatric and adult sleep consultant. Every year, about 3,400 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping. These deaths are often due to SIDS or accidental deaths caused by suffocation or strangulation.1

As for how you put your baby down, Dr. Denny indicates that parents should follow the ABCs of safe sleep, which means your baby should be alone, on their back, and in their own crib. Back sleeping reduces the risk of a baby suffocating or re-breathing exhaled air that is high in carbon dioxide and low in oxygen, Dr. Denny explains. Inhaling this kind of air may be one factor that leads to SIDS.3

How to Put a Baby to Sleep

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby should sleep:

  • Alone in their own crib or bassinet that is near their parent’s or caregiver’s bed
  • On their back, not on their side or stomach
  • On a firm sleep surface, such as a firm crib mattress covered with a well-fitted sheet
  • Without any soft objects (pillows or stuffed animals) or loose bedding (blankets and sheets)1

4 Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS in Your Nursery


One of the safest places for your baby to sleep is in their own crib. “It is also really important to make sure you are assembling the crib properly,” Dr. Smith says. “Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure there are no gaps where there shouldn’t be and that everything is tightened properly.

Don’t put anything other than a firm mattress with a tightly fitting sheet in or around the crib. “We want (babies) to be sleeping by themselves,” Smith says. “No bumpers, soft pillows, and soft toys. We also should avoid devices marketed as infant sleepers that have a cushy surrounding.”

Additionally, your crib mattress should fit snugly against the inside of the crib. If you can fit two fingers or more between the mattress and the crib, it is not up to safety standards.1 Keep in mind, too, that the harder it is for you to put the crib sheet on the mattress, the safer it is for your baby.

“Parents also should check the CPSC website to make sure that their crib, bassinet, or portable crib meets safety recommendations and has not been recalled,” Dr. Denny says.

The 8 Best Baby Cribs


Many parents opt for a bassinet, especially in the early newborn period. Not only are bassinets smaller and sometimes even portable, but they also allow you to keep your baby close by your bed without having them actually in the bed with you. 

It is vital to your baby’s safety that they have their own sleep surface and not share a bed with their adult caregivers. For the first six months, the AAP recommends room-sharing instead, in which a baby sleeps in the same room as you but not the same bed.1

Be sure to check the weight limit of your baby’s bassinet. Some bassinets have a weight limit of around 15 to 20 pounds, which means by the time your baby is 3 or 4 months old, it will be time to transition to a crib.The 7 Best Bassinets

Portable Cribs and Play Yards

When using portable cribs or play yards, it is important that you only use the mattress that came with it. Keep in mind that when these products were evaluated by the CPSC for safety, they were evaluated only with the mattresses they are sold with.

Likewise, you should only use sheets that were designed by the manufacturer and specifically made for your portable crib or play yard. In fact, you may not want to use a sheet with the play yard at all, especially if it did not come with one. Loose or bunchy sheets can obstruct your baby’s airway.4We Tested the Best Pack ‘N Plays for Home and Travel

Where Should My Baby Not Sleep?

Although it can be tempting to leave a drowsy baby in their swing or car seat for their nap—especially after you get home from a long morning at the zoo—resist the impulse. The AAP, the CDC, and the March of Dimes advise that babies should only sleep on firm, flat surfaces that are designed for infant sleep and meet the CPSC guidelines. 

“We really don’t recommend babies, especially young infants, sleep anywhere other than their crib or bassinet—not in the car seat, stroller, swing, or infant sling,” explains Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, FAAP, medical director of the Pennsylvania AAPs Medical Home Program. “Little babies can get into positions where their head is stuck, where they suffocate, or where their airway is constricted and they cannot breathe. Babies are not able to push things away from their face or hold their head up.”

Here is a closer look at unsafe sleep places for babies. You will want to steer clear of these options because they could put your baby at risk.

Car Seat, Infant Carriers, and Strollers

Babies love movement, so it is not uncommon for them to fall asleep while riding in the car or a stroller. And while there is no need to wake them immediately, it is important that you move them to a safe sleep surface as soon as possible.

“It’s OK if your baby falls asleep in the car, but once you arrive home you need to remove them from the seat and transfer them to their crib,” Dr. Turchi says.

One study found that a small percentage of sleep-related infant deaths occurred in car seats.5 That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put your baby in a car seat when you are driving in the car. But once the car is stopped and you remove the infant carrier from the car, you should place your baby in safe location like a crib, bassinet, or play yard.

Baby Swings, Bouncers, and Sleep Positioners

If your baby falls asleep in a swing, a bouncer, or another piece of baby play equipment other than a CPSC-certified play yard, it is important to move them to a safe sleep surface as soon as possible.

You also should avoid using sleep positioners. These are sometimes called nests or anti-roll pillows that are designed to keep your baby in place. But these products can hinder babies’ breathing.6

Parent’s Bed or Other Soft Surfaces

You may want to sleep with your baby in your bed or nap with them on the couch. Don’t. Babies are at risk of rolling off and getting injured or suffocating in an adult’s arms on these soft surfaces.

“Dangerous sleep surfaces include a caregiver’s bed, couch, sofa, armchair as well as any shared surface,” says Dr. Denny. “[One of the reasons] couches, sofas, and armchairs are dangerous is due to the risk of entrapment.”

While you can bring your baby into your bed to feed them or for comfort, you should return them to their own sleep surface afterward. You, other children, or even pets can accidentally roll over onto the baby, causing them to suffocate. “Additionally, your baby can get entrapped between the bed frame and the mattress or the wall and the mattress,” says Dr. Denny. “Plus, adult beds have loose blankets, softer surfaces, and pillows, all of which pose a risk of suffocation and strangulation.”Co-Sleeping, Sleep Sharing, and the Family Bed

Baby Sleep Safety Tips

Aside from choosing an appropriate sleep surface and following the ABCs of safe sleep, you should consider these other tips to keep your baby healthy while sleeping.

Consider the Room Setup 

Where you place the crib and how you set up your baby’s room are important. Even if they will be sharing a room with you for the first 6 months to 1 year, you need to consider not only where you are placing the crib but also what is nearby.

“You do not want to place the crib close to windows, blinds, or monitor cords,” Smith explains. “There is a risk of strangulation with cords if the baby is able to pull these things into the crib. Even when you are setting up a toddler’s bed, you need to make sure it is far enough away from the way. There is a risk of your toddler getting stuck between the wall and the bed.”

You also should keep the room temperature around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.1 If you feel like your baby might be too warm, feel the nape of their neck. If they are sweating or clammy, they are probably too warm.

“It is important to avoid overheating,” Dr. Turchi says. She advises dressing babies with a layer that would feel the right temperature to you, plus one more light layer, like a sleep sack. “Unfortunately, parents and caregivers have a tendency to bundle babies up and that is not good,” she says.
Best Sleep Sacks

Create a Safe Environment

In addition to making sure that you are setting up your baby’s room in the safest way possible, it is also important to make sure the environment in your home is also safe. For instance, refrain from using alcohol and drugs while your baby is in your care.

Keep your baby away from smokers as well as secondhand smoke. Babies who live with smokers are at an increased risk of SIDS.6

You also could consider giving your baby a pacifier. There is some evidence that they can protect against SIDS.6

Of course, if you are breastfeeding, you may want to wait until your baby is at least 3 or 4 weeks old before offering a pacifier. If your baby has no interest in a pacifier, though, do not force it. And never hang a pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach it to their clothing. Doing so poses a risk of strangulation.6How to Arrange Your Baby’s Furniture for an Inviting Nursery

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to putting your baby down to sleep, the safest place for them is on a firm mattress in their own crib, bassinet, or play yard. You also should make sure they are alone and on their back. You might even consider putting their crib or bassinet in your room so that they are nearby but still sleeping alone.

In fact, room sharing—not to be confused with bed sharing—is recommended by the AAP for babies during their first year of life, or at least the first 6 months. If you have additional questions or concerns about where your baby should sleep or how to put them down safely, talk to your baby’s pediatrician. They will be able to answer your questions and offer the best advice for your little one so that you and your baby can rest easy.When Should Your Baby Sleep Through the Night?

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