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Campaign to help infants sleep safely

9/20/2013, 6 a.m.

September is Safe Sleep Month, and Gov. Nathan Deal is turning the spotlight on the state’s SIDS awareness campaign to get all babies to sleep in a crib, on their back, and alone.

These measures help to decrease Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related deaths – the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 12 months.

SIDS is an unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant less than 12 months.

In DeKalb County between 2002 and 2007, there were 54 cases of SIDS, 90 percent of which were among black infants, the 2010 Status of Health reports.

Still DeKalb’s SIDS rate was less than Georgia’s annual rate from 2002 to 2006.

At a Sept. 9 news conference at the State Capitol, first lady Sandra Deal, chair of the Georgia’s Children’s Cabinet; Columbus pediatrician Kathryn Cheek; and Guy Wolfe, a father and SIDS awareness activist, underscored the Children’s Cabinet’s Safe Sleep campaign.

Wolfe related the traumatic experience of losing his 3-month-old daughter to SIDS and the call to start the Baby Butterfly Foundation, an organization that educates parents on SIDS and sleep-related death prevention. The group also reaches out to parents who lost children to SIDS.

The first lady said that letting babies spend supervised time on their stomach during waking hours was a wonderful way to prevent flat spots on babies’ heads.

She said Georgia’s priority is protecting and enriching the lives of the state’s children, which means empowering their parents and caregivers with the information they need to keep them safe.

“I think of all the mistakes I made with my own children, and I realized that we just got lucky,” she said. “If we can prevent these deaths, we should do anything it takes to protect our babies.”

Tips for parents and caregivers:

nAlways place babies on their backs to sleep during naps and at nighttime.

nDon’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds or cushions.

nKeep crib or bassinet free of toys, soft bedding, blankets and pillows.

nDo not expose the infant to tobacco smoke.

nAvoid letting the baby get too hot during sleep.

nDon’t cover the heads of babies with a blanket or over-bundle them in clothing and blankets.

nMonitor babies who are on their tummy while awake.

nDiscuss with your caregiver how and where you want your baby placed for a nap or at nighttime.

The Safe Sleep campaign has distributed more than 500 posters to hospitals, WIC clinics, and child care providers across the state.

For more information, visit http://children.georgia.gov/current-projects.