Safe Sleep and Skin-to-Skin Care in the Neonatal Period for Healthy Term Newborns

Pediatrics. 2016 Sep;138(3):e20161889. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-1889. Epub 2016 Aug 22.


Skin-to-skin care (SSC) and rooming-in have become common practice in the newborn period for healthy newborns with the implementation of maternity care practices that support breastfeeding as delineated in the World Health Organization's "Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding." SSC and rooming-in are supported by evidence that indicates that the implementation of these practices increases overall and exclusive breastfeeding, safer and healthier transitions, and improved maternal-infant bonding. In some cases, however, the practice of SSC and rooming-in may pose safety concerns, particularly with regard to sleep. There have been several recent case reports and case series of severe and sudden unexpected postnatal collapse in the neonatal period among otherwise healthy newborns and near fatal or fatal events related to sleep, suffocation, and falls from adult hospital beds. Although these are largely case reports, there are potential dangers of unobserved SSC immediately after birth and throughout the postpartum hospital period as well as with unobserved rooming-in for at-risk situations. Moreover, behaviors that are modeled in the hospital after birth, such as sleep position, are likely to influence sleeping practices after discharge. Hospitals and birthing centers have found it difficult to develop policies that will allow SSC and rooming-in to continue in a safe manner. This clinical report is intended for birthing centers and delivery hospitals caring for healthy newborns to assist in the establishment of appropriate SSC and safe sleep policies.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Patient Safety
  • Rooming-in Care*
  • Sleep*
  • Touch