Skip to main content

More MN babies die because of bad sleeping conditions than car crashes

Experts say infants should sleep in cribs, on their backs, in their parents room to reduce the risk of SIDS.

The Minnesota Department of Health is urging parents to be careful to follow safe sleeping practices with infants.

The department looked back at infant deaths and found that 10 times as many infants die because of unsafe sleeping conditions than in car crashes. According to recent data, fewer than five babies a year died in car crashes but more than 50 died while sleeping.

In 2014, 53 Minnesota babies died suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping, the department says. All of those babies were exposed to at least one sleep safety hazard.

The Health Department says 63 percent had been sharing a sleeping area with another person, and 85 percent either had loose objects around them (like pillows or blankets) or weren't sleeping on a firm surface like a crib mattress.

To keep babies safe, the MDH recommends following the ABCs of safe sleep:

  • ALONE: Infants should always sleep or nap alone.
  • BACK: Always put a baby on their back to sleep or nap.
  • CRIB: Babies should always sleep or nap in their own safety-approved crib or play yard.

Experts also recommend keeping blankets and pillows out of the crib to reduce the risk of suffocation. Instead, keep babies warm with appropriate pajamas.

"We can save dozens of babies a year by supporting parents, grandparents, caregivers, communities and retailers in their efforts to have babies sleep alone on their backs in safety-approved cribs free of pillows and blankets," Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement.

Governor Mark Dayton has also proclaimed the week of October 23-29 as Infant Safe Sleep Week in Minnesota.

New guidelines for safe sleeping

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced new guidelines for keeping sleeping babies safe.

In addition to the recommendations above, the new guidelines say babies should sleep in the same room as their parents for an entire year.

Not in a bed, though. The infant should stay in a crib.

The academy says sleeping in the same room can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent.

The new guidelines also recommend skin-to-skin contact with the baby ASAP after birth, as well as breastfeeding.

SIDS facts

The Academy of Pediatrics says there are about 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths every year in the U.S.

According to Mayo Clinic there are other factors – in addition to sleeping hazards – that put babies at higher risk of SIDS. Those include brain abnormalities, low birth weight, and respiratory infections.

Additionally, gender and race play a role. Mayo says boys and black or American Indian babies are more likely to die of SIDS.

The state Department of Health says that may have to do with racial inequities and not being able to provide a safe sleeping environment.

Next Up

Crane Lake

Flooding expected to worsen in MN's Arrowhead region

Hundreds of private homes are at-risk in northern St. Louis County.

St. Paul Police crash

St. Paul police: Kids in stolen car rammed squad, hid in porta-potty

The incident sent the Minnesota Capitol into a brief lockdown.


Watch: Storm updates after heavy hail slams Twin Cities

Sven Sundgaard is providing an update after Thursday's flash hail storm.

kim crockett facebook sos

MN GOP apologizes over antisemitic sequence in candidate's campaign video

Party leader says candidate didn't know the imagery perpetuated an antisemitic trope.

storm, severe

Tornado, severe thunderstorm watches issued in Minnesota

In addition to possible tornadoes, there is a threat for damaging winds and very large hail.

House sale keys door

High prices, stiff competition putting off homebuyers in Twin Cities

Prices continue to rise in the metro, but there are signs of buyer fatigue.

Screen Shot 2022-05-19 at 1.59.51 PM

Series of explosions at manufacturing plant injures 6 in Wisconsin

The blast rocked the Wisconsin town just before 7:45 a.m.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Medford man dies in Le Sueur County crash

The 49-year-old was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Denisovan molar

MN researcher part of team behind 'revolutionary' discovery of ancient tooth in Laos

The molar found in a remote cave is believed to have belonged to a Denisovan girl who lived 164,000-130,000 years ago.

Eagle Ridge Middle School

Charges: Sting catches MN principal trying to hire child prostitute

Authorities alleged Mohamed Selim attempted to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex on Tuesday.

cub donuts 1

Nominate a 'local hero' to get a dozen Cub donuts from Salvation Army

The organization is looking for 1,000 volunteers to help with the effort in the metro.


Lowry Avenue Bridge glows pink and blue for lost babies

The Lowry Avenue Bridge glows pink and blue for babies.

ACLU defends MN transgender student in lawsuit over locker room use

Parents filed a lawsuit saying a male student who identifies as female acted inappropriately in the girls locker room.

Some babies should get their second measles vaccine ASAP, officials say

With the recent outbreak in Minnesota, state officials are urging some parents not to wait four years between shots.

These toys made the list of '10 most dangerous' for 2016

A child safety group says you should avoid these toys. But the toy industry says they are safe.

Study: For women, opioid dealers are usually close friends or family

Women who abuse drugs aren't getting them from dealers.

Charges: Aitkin Co. father threw infant across the room for crying

Children less than a year old are abused more often than any other age.