Newborn babies are vulnerable, and as a parent, it is your job to keep them safe from any potential harm. Learn about services such as newborn metabolic screening, newborn hearing screening, and the South Dakota Pregnancy Care Program.

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Safe Sleep

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants after the first month of age. 7 out of 10 infant deaths in South Dakota are related to unsafe sleep practices.

There are things you can do to help keep your baby safer during sleep.

In South Dakota, from 2017-2021:

97 infant deaths were related to sleep or an unsafe sleep environment.*

79% of these sleep-related deaths were potentially preventable.

69% of infant deaths (post birth hospitalization) occurred when sharing a sleep surface with an adult or other child.

*Unsafe sleep environment, such as an adult bed, couch, chair, car seat, swing, rock ‘n’ play or unsafe crib.

Source: Child Death Review, South Dakota, 2017-2021

Every infant in South Dakota should have a safe place to sleep. If your family is unable to afford an approved crib, contact the South Dakota Department of Health at 1-800-305-3064.

ABCs of Safe Sleep

  • Baby should always sleep alone – not with an adult, other children, a twin or anyone else.
  • Baby should sleep alone, in a safe crib or play yard, in the same room as the caregiver.

  • Baby should always be put down to sleep on his/her BACK.
  • The risk of SIDS is much higher when a baby sleeps on his/ her tummy or side.
  • The danger is MUCH greater when a baby who normally sleeps on his/her back is placed on tummy to sleep.
  • Once baby is rolling over on his/her own during sleep, it is OK to let baby sleep that way.

  • Baby should sleep in a safe crib or play yard, with a snug mattress and tight-fitting sheet.
  • There should be NOTHING in the crib with baby – no pillows, blankets, quilts, bumper pads, soft toys, stuffed animals, sheepskins, comforters, etc.
  • Blankets should be replaced with an infant sleep sack or a one piece sleeper.
  • Babies should not sleep on couches, adult beds, bean bags, air mattresses or soft mattresses.
  • Babies should not be put to sleep in swings, recliners, infant seats, car seats, Rock and Plays, or other infant care products that are not a crib, bassinet or play yard.

Crib Safety Tips

There should be:
  • A firm, tight-fitting mattress so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the crib (gap should be <2 fingers wide).
  • No missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • No more than 2 3/8 inches (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats so a baby’s body cannot fit through the slats; no missing or cracked slats.
  • No corner posts over 1/16th inch high so a baby’s clothing cannot catch.
  • No cutouts in the headboard or foot board so a baby’s head cannot get trapped.
  • No drop down sides.
  • Cribs that are incorrectly assembled, have missing, loose or broken hardware or broken slats can result in entrapment or suffocation death. Infants can become strangulated when their head and neck become entrapped in gaps created by missing, loose or broken hardware or broken slats.


Portable Crib and Play Yard Safety Tips

Look for:
  • Mesh less than ¼ inch in size, smaller than the tiny buttons on a baby’s clothing.
  • Mesh with no tears, holes or loose threads that could entangle a baby.
  • Mesh securely attached to top rail and floor plate.
  • Top rail cover with no tears or holes.
  • If staples are used, they are not missing, loose or exposed.
  • Sides that lock securely when in the upright position.
  • Use only the mattress that came with the unit. Mattress should be covered with a tight fitting sheet.
  • There should be no smoking around infant or in infant’s environment.
  • Do not overheat baby – keep room temperature comfortable for lightly clothed adult.
  • Offer pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Breastfeeding and immunizations provide protection also.
  • Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows about Safe Sleep! (daycare, grandparents, babysitters)