SOURCE: Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

November 20, 2013 12:45 ET

ICAN Offers Tips for Preventing Infant Suffocation During Winter

Suffocation Is Leading Preventable Cause of Infant Death in L.A. County

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Nov 20, 2013) - Staying warm during the winter is a top priority for everyone, especially for families with young children. But many actions we take as parents to keep a baby warm can drastically increase the risk of accidental suffocation.

Every five days in Los Angeles County, an infant under the age of 1 suffocates while sleeping, according to recent data from the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN). And when it's cold outside, parents are more likely to bring their baby into bed with them. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents share a room, not a bed, with their baby. Babies can suffocate under blankets and pillows, or when turning into a parent's arm or chest while they're sleeping.

To keep your baby warm and sleeping safely during the winter months, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Dress babies in a fleece or cotton sleeper that zips or buttons up. Don't use hooded sleepers because when babies turn their heads into the hood, they can suffocate.

  • Clear out the crib. Don't put pillows, bumper pads, stuffed toys and blankets in the crib. Also avoid dressing your baby in extra layers of clothing, or wrapping the baby in multiple blankets or thick, plush blankets like a San Marcos blanket.

  • Keep the crib mattress firm. In the wintertime, parents sometimes add layers of blankets on top of the crib mattress to keep their babies warm and to provide extra cushioning, but this can suffocate a baby. A fitted flannel sheet is all that is needed.

  • Check the room temperature. Make sure the temperature in the room where the baby is sleeping isn't too hot. If the room temperature is comfortable for an adult, no extra heat is needed.

  • Share a room, not a bed. Sharing a room is much safer for a baby than sharing a bed. After breastfeeding, nursing mothers should put their baby to sleep in a crib, bassinet or Pack 'n Play that is next to the bed.

According to landlord/tenant laws in California, landlords must keep their properties in livable condition and provide heat in the winter months. Families who are renting a home or apartment that doesn't have a functioning heating system should contact their landlord or property manager.

To learn more about infant safe sleep practices and the risks of suffocation due to bed-sharing and unsafe sleep, visit

About the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
The Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) is the official county agent coordinating the development of services for the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect. ICAN is nationally known for its multi-agency comprehensive review of child fatalities. Through this review, it has been determined that infant unsafe sleeping is the single leading cause of preventable child death. ICAN Associates is a private, nonprofit organization that works in partnership with ICAN, providing support for direct and indirect services to prevent harm to children. ICAN and ICAN Associates have partnered with First 5 LA to raise awareness about safe sleep for babies to save families from the preventable tragedy of losing an infant due to unsafe sleeping practices. For more information, please visit