Until your baby is 6 months old, he's safer in a crib or a co-sleeping attachment in your bedroom than in his own separate room, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in its new SIDS-prevention policy. Unfortunately, letting your baby sleep in your bed increases risk.
"We searched for evidence that bed-sharing is safe under certain conditions -- if the mother didn't smoke, if the bed was free of loose bedding and soft pillows -- but found none," says John Kattwinkel, M.D., chairman of the SIDS task force. His advice: If you nurse your baby in bed, you can cuddle together and even let him fall asleep there, but put him in his own safe sleeping space before you go to sleep. (After 6 months, he can sleep in his own room.)
Other new recommendations:
Avoid side sleeping. It's now been shown to be more dangerous than back sleeping.
Be vigilant about daycare. Surprisingly, more than 20 percent of babies in daycare centers are still put to sleep on their tummies.
Put preemies on their backs. Many are kept on their tummies or sides in the neonatal intensive care unit to ease their breathing. But once they go home, it's time to switch to back sleeping.
Let your baby use a pacifier if you want. Up to 6 months, it can add protection. Other SIDS prevention rules stay the same: No loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed toys in the crib. And don't overbundle your baby, overheat the room where he sleeps, or smoke in the house.