October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared October 2021 Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month to highlight the importance of preventing sleep-related infant deaths. A baby in Michigan dies nearly every other day due to sleeping in an unsafe sleep environment – that’s over 140 babies every year. SIDS is the third leading cause of infant death, behind premature birth and medical conditions.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexpected and sudden death of an apparently healthy infant younger than one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which may include an autopsy, a review of the death science, and a review of a family’s medical history.

Established in 1996, the Welcome Newborns mission is to promote the well being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect. For more than 17 years, the Welcome Newborns program has participated in a campaign to advise parents, caregivers and grandparents on infant safe sleep practices for the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Even the healthiest of infants may be at increased risk of death just from the environment they are sleeping in. Research has shown that the very first time an infant is placed face down to sleep is often when SIDS occurs. In addition, research has shown that three out of four of sleep related deaths involve children sleeping in unsafe locations such as adult beds and two out of three deaths involve infants who were not sleeping on their backs.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare; putting their baby to sleep and discovering the next morning that the child has passed away. In the U.S., more than 3,500 infants die each year from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and from what experts describe as “other” sleep-related causes of infant death. Sparing families the incomprehensible tragedy has been a long-term goal of the Welcome Newborns program of Delta County.

The good news is that by providing infants with an appropriate sleep environment, it is possible to greatly reduce the risk of SIDS and the risk for what researchers now call “sudden infant death”.

Research shows that half of the infants who die from SIDS do so while sleeping with their parents. Despite a 27 year national campaign urging parents to put their baby on their backs to sleep, statistics show that 43% of U.S. mothers report that they both intend to use this method and actually do so all of the time.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, placing babies on their backs night time and nap time reduces the risk of SIDS as well as other sleep related deaths such as suffocation.

To reduce the risk of SIDS:

– Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night, every time to reduce the risk of SIDS

– Remove all loose bedding, comforters, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed animals, bumpers, wedges, and pillows from your baby’s crib.

– Use a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.

– Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.

– It is recommended that the baby’s crib be placed in the parent’s room for at least six months, but preferably for the first year.

– Place baby to sleep on his or her back for nap time and night time.

– Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a one piece sleeper or a HALO Sleep Sack and do not use a blanket.

– Make sure nothing covers the baby’s head.

– Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.

– Do not let your baby get overheated during sleep. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.

– DO NOT BED SHARE…BUT DO ROOM SHARE. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or in a chair alone, with you, or anyone else.

“As a part of our efforts to reduce the number of infant deaths in Delta County, our Welcome Newborns program distributes FREE “Baby Safe Sleep Kits” to Delta County families regardless of income or where their baby was born. The Safe Sleep Kits include updated research based educational material about placing a baby to sleep in a safe sleep environment and a Free HALO Sleep Sack (premium wearable blanket) designed by an Engineer from Minnesota that lost his first born to SIDS. This wearable blanket replaces loose blankets that can cover the baby’s face and interfere with breathing. The HALO Sleep Sack allows parents to remove loose blankets from their baby’s crib and still keep the baby cozy, warm, and safe throughout the night and during nap time. Valued at $25.00 each, every HALO Sleep Sack Swaddle wearable blanket reinforces back sleeping with the message “Back is Best” embroidered on the front of each Sleep Sack.

To receive a Free “Baby Safe Sleep” Kit, Delta County parents simply need to contact the Welcome Newborns office. The kits are available during the last three months of pregnancy or following their baby’s birth. The Newborn Size will fit newborns that weigh between six and 12 pounds.

To learn more about SIDS Risk Prevention, or to request a Free Baby Safe Sleep Kit contact Lannie Berg, Welcome Newborns Program Coordinator at the MDS Community Action Agency office in Escanaba, Michigan

Phone: (906) 786-7080, Extension 143 or email: rolandaberg@yahoo.com.


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