Every day we see images of babies in unsafe sleep situations – on social media and in ads. 

Why do we need to be so particular about photos of cute babies sleeping?  Because every year approximately 3,700 infants die due to sleep-related deaths—that’s more than 10 babies a day.  And a great majority of these deaths could be prevented by following the Safe Sleep Guidelines developed by The American Academy of Pediatrics.

We need bloggers, photographers and companies to help us model a safe sleep environment so that parents, grandparents and other caregivers understand what this means.  By committing only to post images of babies in safe sleep situations you can become one of our Safe Sleep Guardians. You can post our badge on your website showing that you support First Candle and are committed to helping us save babies’ lives.

To learn more about the Safe Sleep Guardian program contact Alison Jacobson at Alison@firstcandle.org.

Guidelines for a Safe Sleep Image

Sleep Space & Surface

  • Crib, bassinet, or other safe space is bare (no blanket, quilt, pillows, bumper pads, sheepskin, stuffed animals, or toys).
  • Bassinet does not have padded sides.
  • Baby is not sleeping on any surface other than a firm mattress (i.e., not on a parent’s chest, adult bed, sofa, chair, or pillow).
  • Mattress fits snugly in crib, bassinet, or other safe space and covered with only a fitted sheet. Crib mattress is at the lowest level for babies old enough to pull up or stand.
  • Crib does not have a drop side.
  • Crib slats appear to be narrow (i.e., not wide enough to fit a soda can through). Baby is not sleeping in a positioner or on a wedge.
  • Baby is not sleeping in car seat, stroller, swing, bouncy seat, infant carrier, infant sling, or a similar product.
  • Baby’s sleep space is not near a window, draperies, blind/shade cords, or electric wires. Baby is not sleeping near a crib gym or mobile.
  • Nothing is hung from or around the crib slats.


  • Baby is on back.
  • Baby is sleeping alone. Baby’s head is uncovered.
  • Baby is dressed in a wearable blanket or other sleep clothing for warmth, without the use of blankets.
  • Baby is sleeping in a separate sleep space within arm’s reach of Mom, Dad, or other caregiver.


  • If Mom is breastfeeding baby in her bed Mom’s eyes are open.
  • Baby’s bassinet or other safe space is empty and visible near Mom’s bed.
  • Mom’s bed is free of sheets, blankets, pillows, and any other item that could obstruct infant breathing if she should fall asleep; other people; and pets.

Other considerations

  • If baby is having tummy time, her eyes are open and an adult is watching.
  • If baby has a pacifier, the pacifier is cordless and not attached to a stuffed toy or baby’s clothing.
  • If baby is swaddled, the blanket used to swaddle baby is thin. The blanket is wrapped no higher than baby’s shoulders (not touching baby’s face or head). The swaddle does not appear to be wrapped too tight; loose ends are tucked under baby.

First Candle’s Safe Sleep Guardians

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