WASHINGTON — Infants should sleep on their backs and not their sides or stomachs, according to new guidelines released by the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center.

Douglas Ide, spokesman for the center, said the changes aren’t in response to any known problems in the military community but reflect recent advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics on ways to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.

The center will distribute the information to personnel in their Child and Youth Services programs, to ensure that infants in their care will be handled appropriately, he said.

The American SIDS Institute said the syndrome — any case where a young child’s death cannot be explained — typically occurs while a child is sleeping.

The academy’s new sleep position guidelines dictate that infants should be positioned on their backs during naps and evening sleep.

Laying infants on their side, in the past recognized as an alternative, is no longer recommended by the academy because of the risk of the children rolling onto their stomachs during sleep, increasing the risk of SIDS. Exceptions can be made for infants with unusual medical needs, but caretakers should consult a pediatrician first.

The academy also recommends removing soft toys and loose bedding from infants’ cribs and dressing them in light clothing while sleeping, to reduce the chance of suffocation by the child.

Ide said the center also is working with its home care providers to alert them of the changes, so they can implement the new guidelines on their visits to the homes of military personnel.

According to statistics from the SIDS Institute, about 2,500 infants in the United States died last year from SIDS.

For more information, go to: or the SIDS Institute at

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