Safe Sleep & Other Safety Tips

SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The risk of SIDS in the following groups exceeds that of the general population by as much as 5 to 10 times:

  • Infants born weighing less than 3.5 pounds.
  • Infants whose sibling died of SIDS.
  • Infants exposed to cocaine, heroin, or methadone during the pregnancy.
  • The second or succeeding child born to a teenage mother.
  • Infants who have had an apparent life-threatening event.

Steps parents can take to lower the risk of SIDS:

  • Place your baby on his or her back to sleep
  • Use a firm crib mattress with tight fitting sheets
  • Keep blankets, pillows and stuffed animals out of the crib
  • Don't smoke around your baby
  • Keep your baby warm, not hot
  • Keep your baby healthy
  • Breast-feed babies whenever possible. Breast milk decreases the occurrence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
  • Avoid exposing the infant to people with respiratory infections. Carefully clean anything that comes in contact with the baby. Have people wash their hands before holding or playing with your baby. SIDS often occurs in association with relatively minor respiratory (mild cold) and gastrointestinal infections (vomiting and diarrhea).

Keep Your Baby Safe at Night

Thousands of deaths occur each year while children sleep.

  • A baby should always sleep face up. Make sure that everyone who comes into contact with your infant - you, grandparents and other relatives, childcare providers, babysitters - knows to always place an infant on his or her back at night or naptime.
  • Use a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib or bassinet. Do not use a crib with a mattress that allows you to fit two fingers between it and the sides of the crib.
  • Never put an infant on a waterbed, bean bag, or anything soft enough to cover the face.
  • Do not place a crib within reach of window blind or curtain cords.
  • Test the batteries in your smoke detectors on the first day of every month. Change the batteries twice a year.
  • Plan and practice a fire escape route with your family.

Newborn Health

  • Babies should be put on their backs for sleep at home and in other childcare settings.
  • Breastfeeding is healthy for both you and your baby. Breast milk protects your baby's health, is more convenient, saves money, and builds a special bond between you and your baby.
  • Keep your baby's environment smoke-free. If you are a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health and your baby's health.
  • Oral Health - Start thinking about your baby's teeth and gums early. Take your baby to a pediatric dentist.
  • Understand the basics about newborn care and safety. Be careful not to dress your baby too warmly and know the safe ways to bathe your baby and ensure proper hygiene.
  • Get regular check-ups for your baby. Call your baby's doctor if you have any concerns about your baby's health or development.
  • Give your baby a healthy diet. Proper nutrition is important for your baby's growth and development.
  • Choose a family planning method that works for you. After your baby is born, talk about family planning options with your partner and your doctor.

Additional Resources

A child safety seat may not protect your child in a crash if it isn't used correctly and installed properly in your vehicle. Take a minute to check to be sure...

Washington State Child Passenger Restraint Law dictates:

  • Children under 13 years old are to be transported in the back seat where it is practical to do so.
  • Children up to their 8th birthday, unless they are 4'9" tall (whichever comes first), must use a child restraint.
  • The restraint system must be used correctly according to the car seat AND vehicle manufacturer's instructions.
  • Vehicles equipped with lap-only seat belts are exempt from the requirements to use a booster seat for a child weighing more than 40 pounds.
  • Children 8 years of age or at least 4'9" who wear a seat belt MUST use it correctly (never under the arm or behind the back) or continue to use a child restraint.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines for both the child restraint and the vehicle.

Keeping kids safe is more than a law. Recommendations from research can be found on the following link:

Additional Resources

Posters, Brochures, Workbooks


  • Store firearms unloaded and locked.
  • Use a firearm safe, locked box, trigger or chamber lock to store firearms.
  • Store and lock ammunition in a separate place.
  • Remove firearms from your home if you have a depressed or suicidal family member.
  • Ask family and friends to use these safe storage steps.
  • Before you send your child to someone's house, ask if firearms in the home are stored unloaded and locked. Ask if the ammunition is stored separately. Ask about shotguns and rifles too, not just handguns.
  • If you have doubts about the safety of someone else's home, invite the children to play at your home instead.
  • Present your concerns with respect.
  • Talk with your children about the risk of firearm injury in places they may visit or play.
  • Teach your child if she finds a firearm to leave it alone and let an adult know right away.

Additional Resources

Each year, approximately 200 children drown and several thousand others are treated in hospitals for submersion accidents and accidents which leave children with permanent brain damage and respiratory health problems.

Remember, it only takes a few seconds for a small child to wander away. Children have a natural curiosity and attraction to water.

Keeping Children Safe In, On, and Around the Water

  • Maintain constant supervision. Watch children around any water environment (pool, stream, lake, tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water.
  • Don't rely on substitutes. The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.
  • Enroll children in a water safety course or a swimming lesson program. Your decision to provide your child with an early aquatic experience is a gift that will have infinite rewards.
  • Parents should take a CPR course. Knowing these skills can be important around the water and you will expand your capabilities in providing care for your child.

General Water Safety Tips

  • Learn to swim.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Swim in a designated area and make sure an adult watches you.
  • Wear a life jacket:

    Life jacket safety tips provided by Seattle Children's Drowning Prevention

    • Children 0-5: Put your child in a life jacket when playing in or near the water, on a dock or in a boat, raft or inner tube.
    • Children 6-11: Even if your child knows how to swim, have them wear a life jacket when swimming or playing in open water outside of a life-guarded area, in a river or the ocean.
    • All ages: Children and teens should wear a life jacket any time they are on a boat, raft, inner tube or swimming in open water like lakes, rivers or the ocean.
  • An air mattress of swim ring does not take the place of a life jacket.
  • No drugs or alcohol.
  • Obey all "No Swimming" and other warning signs.
  • Never dive or jump into unknown waters.
  • Watch out for the "dangerous too's"--too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.
  • Never swim in a canal.

Children of all ages set over 100,000 fires annually. Over 30% of fires that kill children are set by children playing with fire.

Practice fire safety in your home

  • Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
  • Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
  • Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
  • Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Teach children the nature of fire. It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
  • Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out in the case of fire.
  • Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level in your home.
  • Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
  • Test the smoke alarm each month and replace the battery at least once a year.

Replace the smoke alarm every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer. 

Additional Resources

Brochures, Workbooks


Before your baby is born

  • Get early prenatal care. Early prenatal care is important for you and for your baby's health.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have been involved in risky behaviors. Get help with drug and alcohol problems, and ask your doctor to do HIV tests and GBS screening if you are at-risk.
  • Keep your family and friends involved with your pregnancy. A strong family support system is part of good health and baby safety.
  • Be Prepared and Plan Ahead: Parenting education can help you become a more confident and more effective parent.
  • Maintain a healthy and safe pregnancy exercise program. Appropriate exercise under your doctor's supervision can help you feel good throughout your pregnancy and prepare you for labor.

Reducing the risk of SIDS before your baby is born

We cannot expect to prevent all SIDS deaths until we have a greater understanding. However, there are things that parents-to-be can do to reduce the risk:

  • Get medical care early in pregnancy, preferably within the first three months, followed by regular checkups at the doctor's office or health clinic. Make every effort to assure good nutrition. These measures can reduce the risk of premature birth, a major risk factor for SIDS.
  • Do not smoke, use cocaine, or use heroin. Tobacco, cocaine, or heroin use during pregnancy increases the infant's risk for SIDS.
  • Take care to prevent becoming pregnant during the teenage years. If you are a teen and already have one infant, take extreme caution not to become pregnant again. The SIDS rate decreases for babies born to older mothers. It is highest for babies born to teenage mothers. The more babies a teen mother has, the greater at risk they are.
  • Wait at least one year between the birth of a child and the next pregnancy. The shorter the interval between pregnancies, the higher the SIDS rate.

Additional Resources

First Steps - program that helps low-income pregnant women get health and social services.