Infant Health

About Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. In addition to giving us key information about maternal and infant health, the infant mortality rate is an important marker of the overall health of a society. 

What causes Infant Mortality?

There are many different causes of infant mortality, from infection to birth defects or accidents. There is also a difference between causes of infant mortality and contributors to infant mortality. A cause leads directly to a death. In contrast, a contributor is a risk factor that makes the death more likely to happen. 

Causes of Infant Mortality in the United States

The most common causes of death in the United States in 2021 were the following:
1.    Birth defects (
2.    Preterm birth and low birth weight (
3.    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (
4.    Injuries (e.g., suffocation)
5.    Maternal complications

What is SIDS/SUID?


In the last several years, the terms connoting sudden infant death have become confusing, not only to parents, but also to professionals and researchers. CDC (Centers for Disease Control), in an attempt to clarify the issue, suggested that SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) be used as a broad term that encompasses all sudden infant deaths. This would include SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), accidental deaths (such as suffocation and strangulation), sudden natural deaths (such as those caused from infections, cardiac or metabolic disorders, and neurological conditions), and homicides.

Some others however, use SUID to mean Sudden Unexplained Infant Death. For example when a medical examiner, even after a thorough scene investigation, cannot tell the difference between SIDS and suffocation, they will often use this term to mean it is unexplained. Other medical examiners might call these "undetermined" and others would still call them SIDS. Since there is usually no way to tell the difference between suffocation and SIDS at the autopsy, the scene investigation is of utmost importance. Increasingly, investigators are using doll reenactments at the home to help parents clarify the situation surrounding their infant's death.

There are about 3,400 sudden infant deaths a year in the US. About ½ of these are diagnosed as SIDS or unexplained and the other ½ are diagnosed as due to other causes.

About Cribs for Kids

One of the primary goals of Cribs for Kids® is to emphasize the importance of Safe Sleep Education and to disseminate it effectively throughout communities to reduce infant mortality. 

Serving as the hub for Hamilton County, the Cincinnati Health Department provides cribs to babies whose caregivers cannot afford them and educate them about the dangers of unsafe sleep environments. We not only educate the public about the importance of infant safe sleep, but we make sure that every baby has a safe sleeping environment. We provide FREE cribettes, portable crib sheets, and Halo Sleep Sacks.

Over the years the choice of a safe sleeping environment has transitioned from full-sized cribs to the Pack n Play and now to our own playard-type unit, the Cribette. This unit, which has all the safety features of the Pack n Play, brings the infant safe sleep message front and center to all caregivers with the safe sleep message imprinted on the fabric – A B C – Alone on my Back in a Crib. This makes the Cribette an educational tool, in addition to being a safe sleeping environment for babies up to 30 pounds and 35 inches.

Versatile and compact, our Cribette features infant safe sleep messaging that coordinates with nearly any style with the multi-color print fabric. It is constructed from made-to-last materials to ensure safety, stability, and longevity. This compact design is easy to transport and effortlessly converts from a full-size bassinet to a safe sleep space for infants up to one year of age.

Program Qualifications

  • Must be AT LEAST 32 weeks pregnant and infants already born must be UNDER one year of age.
  • Must reside in Hamilton County
  • Must be WIC eligible (do not need to be signed up)
  • Please call 564-BABY (2229) and press option 2 for more information on how to receive a free crib or how to become a partnering agency with the Cincinnati Health Department.
About Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank/Tidal Babe Program

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank partners with local social service agencies to provide free diapers to low-income families while raising awareness of the basic health need for diapers. Their vision is to eliminate the existence of diaper need in our community so that ALL babies have a chance to be healthy, happy, and safe.

The Cincinnati Health Department is an active partner with SCDB and through this partnership we can provide families with monthly allotments of diapers for any children in the household under the age of 4. Through the Tidal Bank Program CHD supplies menstrual kits for ALL females in the household who have a menstrual cycle.

Families can receive 50 diapers per month per child, and one potty training kit per child (potty seat, underwear, coloring books and crayons). Each female can receive either pad or tampon kits, or a menstrual cup with pantyliners.

*** Diaper brands vary depending on warehouse donations. ***

PLEASE CALL 513-564-BABY (2229) and press option 2 FOR MORE INFORMATION

Sleep Related Infant Deaths Joint Press Release 2022
Safe Sleep

To keep your baby safe, follow these precautions:

  • Put your baby to sleep on his/her back in the room where you sleep, in a crib or bassinet near your bed.
  • Babies should not be put to sleep on the tummy or side.
  • Place your baby on a firm surface.
  • Use a safety-approved crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. No soft mattresses, quilts, futons, waterbeds, beanbags or pillows.
  • Keep soft objects, toys, and loose blankets out of your baby's sleep area. Avoid pillows, blankets, and soft crib bumpers.
  • No smoking around baby: Do not smoke before or after the birth of your baby, and do not let others smoke around your baby.
  • Don't lie down with your baby on a sofa, armchair or recliner. Babies can become trapped in the sides or cushions.
  • Your baby should not sleep with other adults, children or animals.
  • Don't let your baby get too hot. Dress your baby in light sleep clothes.
  • If your baby is very fussy at sleep time despite being fed, soothe your baby by offering a pacifier or rocking him/her. Ask your pediatrician for other ideas.
  • If you bring your baby to bed in order to breastfeed, make sure you are in a position that will allow you to stay awake and alert. Position your baby to protect him or her from moving under the covers or into a pillow while in your bed. Make sure baby cannot fall out of the bed or become wedged between the mattress and a wall. When finished breastfeeding and your baby is ready to sleep, put your baby on his/her back in the crib or bassinet.
  • Do not bring your baby in bed to breastfeed if you or your partner is overly tired, have used alcohol or medications that make you sleepy.
Grieving the Loss of a Baby

The loss of a baby is something no family should have to face. For those who would like the support of others who have experienced a similar loss, there are several support resources available:


Crib Tutorial 

Printable and Shareable Resources, and Downloadable Media

Safe Sleep Resources for Dads

Materials in Spanish (Brochures, Handouts, Infographics and Videos)

Interactive Dashboard: Infant Mortality and SIDS/SUIDS