Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Health Indicator Report of Safe Sleep

Placing babies on their backs to sleep reduces the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths, collectively termed Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).


This is Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective MCH-6. Confidence intervals not available for 2003 data.

Data Source

Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology, Division of Family Health Services, New Jersey Department of Health, []


Self-reported practice of putting infants on their backs to sleep


Number of mothers who put their infants on their backs to sleep


Number of mothers who responded to the survey

Healthy People Objective: Increase the proportion of infants who are put to sleep on their backs

U.S. Target: 75.8 percent
State Target: 74.1 percent

Other Objectives

'''Revised Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective MCH-6''': Increase the proportion of infants who are put to sleep on their backs to 74.1% among the total population, 83.7% among Whites, 53.7% among Blacks, 66.8% among Hispanics, and 82.5% among Asians.

How Are We Doing?

Putting infants on their backs for every sleep is associated with a lower rate of sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS. This practice increased from 58% in 2003 to 75% in 2017, before decreasing slightly to stand at 73.7% in 2020. As in other states, there are population group disparities in the reported use of back to sleep. *Among Whites, this practice increased from 69.2% in 2003 to 84.0% in 2020 and, from 2003 to 2020, the practice in Black infants increased from 37.8% to 56.2%, thus meeting the HNJ2020 targets for both groups. *Among Hispanics, this practice increased from 42.1% in 2003 to 63.6% in 2020. *Among Asians, this practice increased from 67.2% in 2003 to 77.1% in 2020.

What Is Being Done?

In 1994, the "[ Back to Sleep]" campaign was enacted encouraging parents to place babies on their backs to sleep. This practice has been termed one of the seven most important research findings in pediatrics in the past 40 years and is associated with a reduction in SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths such as accidental suffocation. This campaign was based on the evidence-based recommendations the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) began issuing in 1992 to reduce the risk of SIDS. Now termed the "[ Safe to Sleep]" campaign, the guidelines have expanded to address other risk factors and apply not only to SIDS but to other sleep-related infant deaths. All fall under the term Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). The guidelines are described in the Evidence-based Practices section below. The SIDS Center of New Jersey (SCNJ) is funded in part through a health services grant from the New Jersey Department of Health and carries out the state's mandate to provide bereavement support, to study risk factors associated with SUID, and to provide multilingual and culturally, racially, and ethnically-sensitive risk-reducing education. The SCNJ collaborates with and serves the educational needs of physicians, nurses, social service and child care providers, health care systems, including hospitals and clinics, home visiting programs, maternal and child health consortia, licensing systems, social service organizations, first responders, government agencies, community groups, clergy, and educational institutions with allied public health missions. It identifies barriers to compliance and addresses these and is represented in national initiatives to promote safe sleep. Its 24 hour hotline is noted below. Its programs, materials, and services, also noted below, can be accessed via its website: [] In addition to its long-standing programs and services, noted under Available Services, the SCNJ's newest initiatives include a [ mobile phone app for safe sleep] and a public health initiative to address racial and ethnic disparities. The SCNJ has released a free safe sleep mobile phone app for Android and iPhone systems which can be accessed by placing the words "SIDS Info" into the search bar of the appropriate app store. The content is available in English and Spanish and contains voice-over to overcome challenges related to literacy. The SCNJ's app has received a Public Health Innovator Award from the New Jersey Department of Health. The app contains content for providers as well as the public. Hospitals and other provider systems are using the app as an efficient tool for reviewing safe sleep practices with parents. Providers are asked to then help parents download it to review at home and to share with family members and other caregivers. Disparity in outcomes among racial/ethnic groups is associated in part with disparities in social determinants of health, including economic resources, access to healthcare, access to healthy food, lifespan health, smoking, prematurity, low birth weight, and neighborhood crime, as well as disparities in safe sleep practices. The SCNJ partnered with other public health and healthcare organizations in New Jersey to present a Black Infant Mortality Conference in June 2017 and provided testimony to the NJ State Senate Health Committee to bring greater awareness to the disparities in social determinants that contribute to disparities in infant mortality and to facilitate efforts to address these. In a related project, the SCNJ developed a Student Safe Sleep Ambassador program whereby students in high infant mortality communities learn about safe sleep and educate caregivers in their neighborhoods. The program has proven to be effective in increasing awareness.

Evidence-based Practices

Safe infant sleep guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics include research conducted by the SIDS Center of New Jersey. The campaign describes the safest sleep environment for infants from birth to 12 months of age. In addition to placing infants on their backs to sleep, the guidelines recommend avoidance of an infant bed sharing with a sleeping adult or child, avoidance of a sofa or chair for infant sleep, removal of loose bedding, pillows, quilts, soft objects, and bumpers from the infant's sleep area, use of a firm mattress that fits the crib space, is intended for the product, and is covered only with a tightly fitted sheet, avoidance of overheating the infant, and avoidance of exposure to tobacco smoke. In place of bed sharing, room sharing with the baby is advised so that the parent can be close by the infant. Breastfeeding is also recommended. While parents may bring the infant into bed for feeding and comforting, the AAP recommends that the infant be returned to the near-by crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets current safety standards, once the parent is ready to sleep. These standards can be obtained from the Consumer Product Safety Commission ([ online] or 800-638-2772). Parents should consider offering a pacifier but should wait one month if breastfeeding and should avoid the use of clips or strings to attach a pacifier to the infant's clothing as these pose a strangulation risk. Tummy time when the infant is awake and supervised is also recommended to facilitate motor development. The AAP urges all caregivers to discuss these guidelines and any challenges to achieving them with their infant's health care providers. The policy statement can be accessed through the following link provided by the AAP: [].

Available Services

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Center of New Jersey (SCNJ) Hotline: 800-545-7437 Visit [] or call the hotline to obtain additional bereavement services, hospital Safe Sleep Tool Kits, the American Academy of Pediatrics safe infant sleep guidelines, and SIDS Center safe sleep flyers, videos, information on its free mobile phone app, and related material. Examples of three of the SCNJ's long-standing educational programs are *Nurses LEAD the Way, which is presented at birthing hospitals and has resulted in improvements in knowledge about safe sleep and in education policies and procedures related to the provision of this information to families, *Neighborhoods LEAD the Way, which reaches into communities at highest risk to address the challenges of racial disparity often in collaboration with local clergy, and *Presentations to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. [[br]] The SCNJ provides educational materials in English, Spanish, Arabic, Haitian Creole, and Hindi with other languages available as requested. Educational videos, hospital tool kits, webinars, and other message facilitating material are distributed and also available on the SCNJ website. In addressing the major risk of household smoke exposure, the SCNJ collaborated with [ Mom's Quit Connection] to extend the penetration of knowledge and interventions. The SCNJ also targets specific groups of caregivers, such as grandparents, and works with faith-based communities to reach caregivers at community levels. The free SIDS Center of New Jersey [ safe sleep mobile phone app] can be accessed through the app stores for Android and iPhones by typing "SIDS Info" into the search bar. To arrange an education program, call the hotline: 800-545-7437

Health Program Information

NJDOH Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) information: [] NJ Department of Children and Families: []
Page Content Updated On 11/05/2021, Published on 11/05/2021
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 04 March 2024 13:06:37 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

Content updated: no date