Safe Sleep, do you know our facts?
A sleep‐related infant death is the death of an otherwise healthy infant with no obvious trauma or
disease process present, birth to one year of age, where elements of an unsafe sleeping environment
were present. This encompasses infant deaths classified as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), ASSB
(Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed) and Undetermined.
An unsafe sleep environment includes soft bedding, articles in the crib or bed, infant sleeping in an adult
bed or on other sleep surfaces such as a couch or chair, infant sleeping with another adult or child, and
infant sleeping in a non‐supine position (i.e. on the stomach or side). (1)
Montcalm County Statistics
There were 8 sleep‐related infant deaths in Montcalm County from 2010‐2014. Our county is ranked 6th
highest in the state for sleep‐related infant deaths and has a death rate that is nearly double that of the
overall Michigan rate.
75% of infants who died of sleep‐related causes were placed in an adult bed.
25% of infants who died of sleep‐related causes were placed to sleep in a crib, bassinet or
50% of sleep‐related deaths occurred among infants who shared a sleep surface.
57% of infants who died of sleep‐related causes were found on their stomach and 14% were
found on their side.
9 in 10 infants died before the age of 4 months
1 in 4 infants was born preterm (less than 37 weeks)
38% of mothers of infants who died of sleep‐related causes in Montcalm County smoked during
pregnancy compared to 18% of all Michigan mothers.
Since 2010, 712 babies have died due to sleep‐related deaths1. In 2014, 152 infants died due to
Sleep‐related infant death is a leading cause of death among infants less than 1 year1.
Nearly 50% of infants who died of sleep‐related causes were found on their stomach and 15%
were found on their side1.
Based on the sleep‐related infant deaths that were reviewed in 2014, nearly 50% of infants that
died were in an adult bed, 20% were place on a couch, chair, or floor and 10% were placed in
other unsafe sleep locations1.
Of the sleep‐related infant deaths that were reviewed in 2014, approximately 60% of the infants
that died involved suffocation hazards present in the sleep environment, such as blankets
(84%), pillows (25%), bumper pads (15%) and stuffed toys (5%). In some cases, more than one
of these items was present in the infant’s sleep environment at the time of death. (1)
1 Michigan SUID Case Registry. Contact Lindsay Gross 517‐324‐7340 for more information.
Myths & Facts
MYTH: Cribs cause crib death.
FACT: Cribs don�t cause �crib death. Crib death is an old term that was used when the deaths of
babies were not well understood. Now, from research, autopsies, death scene investigations and more,
we know better. Cribs save lives.
MYTH: Babies will choke if they spit up while lying on their backs.
FACT: This is not true � babies are actually safer on their backs. When a baby is on his or her back, the
airway (trachea) is on top of the esophagus (the tube that carries food). If a baby spits up while on his
or her back, the food and fluid run back into the stomach and not to the lungs. When a baby is on his or
her stomach, the esophagus (or food tube) is on top of the trachea and any food or fluid that is
regurgitated or refluxed can more easily pool at the opening of the trachea, making it possible for the
baby to aspirate or choke. When babies sleep on their backs, their airways are more protected.
MYTH: Babies have slept on their stomachs for generations and they survived.
FACT: Many babies have slept on their stomachs and survived, but that doesn’t mean that was the
safest way for them to sleep. For reasons that doctors are still trying to understand, some babies who
sleep on their stomachs become unable to take a breath when needed. This can cause them to suffocate
because of their inability to change position and take a breath. It is also possible that stomach sleeping
can increase an infant’s risk of breathing his or her own exhaled air, especially if the infant is in an
environment with soft bedding near the face. As baby breathes the exhaled air, the oxygen level in the
body can drop, carbon dioxide can accumulate and the baby can experience a lack of oxygen. Babies
are safest sleeping on their back for every sleep at nap time and at night time.
MYTH: Baby will get cold with no blankets and will be uncomfortable on a firm surface.
FACT: Babies should be dressed in as much or as little clothing as an adult would need. If you are
worried that your baby may be cold, use a footed sleeper or a sleep sack. Babies don’t need blankets,
pillows, comforters or stuffed animals, to feel comfortable. These items tend to get in babies way and
can cause suffocation if baby becomes entangled in them. If parents still want these items for baby’s
nursery, stuffed animals can be decoration on a shelf, quilts can be hung on the wall and blankets can
be used on the floor for supervised tummy time. Keep soft objects, loose bedding, pillows and
bumper pads out of the crib.
MYTH: Babies will get lonely in the crib.
FACT: It is possible to bond and develop strong attachments during awake time with baby. Cuddling,
holding while feeding, making eye contact, and talking with baby are all ways to develop strong
attachments. When baby goes to bed, those feelings don’t go away. If baby cries while in the crib,
soothe baby and then lay him or her back to sleep in the crib. Baby will feel comfort and will develop
ways to self‐soothe and calm on his or her own, which is a critical skill. There are many techniques that
parents can use to help when baby is crying. Resources such as the Period of Purple Crying, advice
from a doctor, nurse or other health provider, and others are available to help teach parents skills to
soothe baby. The safest place for baby after soothing is on his or her back in the crib.
MYTH: Baby is safe sleeping in an adult bed.
FACT: Unfortunately, baby is in danger sleeping in an adult bed, or on couches, armchairs or cushions.
An adult can roll over on baby or another person’s arm may cover baby’s head or neck, smothering the
baby, making it impossible for the baby to breathe. Also, baby can roll or move on her own and end up
in a dangerous place such as stuck between the mattress and the headboard or between the bed and
the wall or pressed up against a sofa cushion or other loose bedding. Many parents think that they will
hear the baby and wake if this happens, but tragically, this isn’t often the case. Many parents also think
that bed‐sharing is only risky if they have been drinking or taking drugs. Doing those behaviors does
increase the risk, but bed‐sharing is dangerous even if the parent is not impaired. Babies sleep safest
when sleeping in their own crib, bassinet or portable play yard parents will sleep more soundly
MYTH: Breastfeeding can only be done successfully when the mother bed‐shares with her infant.
FACT: This is not true. Breastfeeding does provide the best nutrition for baby, builds the immune
system and promotes bonding, as well as many other health benefits. But breastfeeding can make
mother sleepy, so it needs to be done outside of the bed, in a chair, for example, and baby needs to be
placed back in the crib once feeding is finished. Some mothers have found it helpful to set a timer or
alarm to help wake them after feeding. Partners are also helpful in returning baby to the crib when
feeding is done. Breastfeeding is encouraged and can be done safely.
2. Sleep‐Related Infant Deaths in Montcalm County. Fact Sheet May 2016. Provided by the Michigan Public Health
Safe Sleep, do you know our facts?