Current debates in the United States on baby sleep index how economic unease manifests itself variably across class and race in the neoliberal contemporary. Drawing on sleep guides, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) discourse, popular tomes about baby sleep and governmental public health policies, this essay demonstrates a split discourse on welfare—understood as care of the social body—that at once privatizes child care and continues to treat poor, often black and brown, parents as dangerous caregivers. Characterized by vociferous polemics about where, with whom, and for how long babies should sleep, debates on sleep as a locus of care imagine both a future of productive sleep and a present of risky sleep for babies. This split in care for infants suggests that welfare itself should be reconceptualized both in terms of the care of populations through government regulation and in terms of the elaboration of privatized forms of care. In other words, infant sleep both continues to fall within the parameters of child welfare and is subject to an explosion in techniques made possible by the problematization of infant sleep itself.

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