Beginning in the 1990’s a safe sleep campaign called “Back to Sleep” initially decreased the number of infant deaths known as sudden infant death or SIDS. That number has plateaued in recent years prompting public health and medical organizations to increase efforts to educate parents and families about the safest way to sleep with their babies.

The St. Joseph County Health Department encourages parents and families to stay close to their babies for sleep, in the same room, while sleeping apart on separate surfaces based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (1) the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (2), the March of Dimes (3) and the Centers for Disease Control[4]. Staying close will create the chance to bond with your baby, learn his needs and establish breastfeeding. Sleeping apart will provide the safest sleep space for your baby.

STAY CLOSE. SLEEP APART. CAMPAIGNStay Close Sleep Apart Campaign

The safest sleep for your baby.


Always place your baby on his/her back to sleep.

  • Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, baby box or pack and play next to your bed in your room for 6 months to a year. Room sharing has been found to decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. (NICHD)
  • Make sure your baby’s bed has a firm, flat surface with a fitted sheet.
  • No blankets, toys or bumpers in your baby’s bed.
  • Breastfeed your baby.
  • No smoking in your home and no one under the influence of drugs or alcohol caring for your baby.
  • Never sleep on a sofa or chair, like a recliner, with your baby.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier for naps or sleep at night.
  • Keep the sleep space cool to avoid overheating.


Give your baby plenty of supervised tummy time while you’re both awake. 
(Tummy time should begin the day baby arrives home and be done for 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times a day to help baby develop appropriate muscle strength.) 

Stay Close. Sleep Apart. Posters
Stay Close. Sleep Apart. Recommendations


What is Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID)?
How often does this happen in St. Joseph County?

Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) is the term used to categorize the death of an infant from birth to 1 year old after a thorough exam, autopsy, and investigation result in an undetermined finding for the cause of death.

There is no way to tell the difference between an accidental suffocation and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) through an autopsy, so the other factors surrounding the death are important and are studied to learn how to reduce the likelihood of SUID.

In St. Joseph County from 2015 to mid-2017, there were 10 cases of SUID in our community. In every case the baby was sleeping in an adult bed and in all but one case, the baby was sharing the bed with at least one adult or child. Other risk factors present in these deaths included babies being put to sleep on their stomachs, heavy bedding and pillows on the bed, and smoking in the living environment. Mother can further help reduce the risk of SUID by not smoking during pregnancy.


Safe Sleep Resources

  1. recommendations-to-protect-against-sids.aspx
  2. (recommended by CDC)