Preventing Suffocation (Child)

Suffocation is a tragedy than can be prevented through awareness.

The most common causes of suffocation to some degree depend on age.


  • Becoming wedged against the bedding, mattress or wall

  • Lying face down on soft bedding or plastic material

  • Twisting of a blanket around the neck

  • Being trapped under a fallen object, such as a playpen wall or TV

Older than 1 year old

  • Becoming wedged between the crib slats

  • Becoming trapped between the bed or playpen and another object

  • Becoming tangled up in cords or string

What to do

As you can imagine from these examples, there are simple things that can be done to help prevent suffocation. Here are several important causes of suffocation in children and steps you can take to prevent them.

  • Infants younger than the age of 4 months do not have the strength to lift their head and turn their face. They are at risk of suffocating if placed on their stomach on a soft surface.

    • Keep your infant on his or her back in a crib with a firm mattress.

    • Don't place infants on soft surfaces, such as a waterbed, sheepskin, soft pillow, bean bag, soft mattress or a fluffy comforter.

  • Infants have suffocated when a parent, sleeping in bed next to the infant, rolls over on top of their infant.

    • Let your infant sleep in a crib next to your bed, not in the bed with you.

  • Suffocation can occur in older children playing with plastic bags or sheets.

    • Dispose of plastic dry-cleaning bags.

    • Keep shopping bags and trash bags out of your child's reach.

  • Ropes and cords can be a strangling hazard. The pull-cord that raises window shades is especially dangerous since it can become a noose for a young child.

    • Shorten all pull cords or cut the loop to avoid this hazard.

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