Stuffed animals are great toys for children. But there is a minimum age you should be aware of that makes it safe for babies to sleep with soft objects.

A child needs to be at least 12 months old before they can sleep with a stuffed animal or other soft items.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that soft pillow-like toys, blankets, quilts, crib bumpers, and other bedding increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and death by suffocation or strangulation. That includes stuffed animals.

So what is the data? Here it is: in 2010, more than 600 infants died because they accidentally suffocated or strangled in bed, and the rate has more than doubled since 2000.

The actual number could be even higher because soft toys and bedding may also play a role in some of the more than 2,000 SIDS-related deaths each year.

The safest option is to keep your child’s crib free of clutter, including stuffed animals or “stuffies”.

After a child’s first birthday, the baby’s risk of dying from SIDS drops significantly. Most 12-month-olds are able to roll over, sit up, and move objects away from their face, so the likelihood drops significantly.

 In 2010, more than 600 infants died because they accidentally suffocated or strangled in bed, and the rate has more than doubled since 2000.