Sleep-related deaths total 17 percent of all infant mortality right here in the Mitten State. And, with a total of 144 sleep-connected deaths in 2012, Michigan ranks 37th in infant mortality in the country.
"Educating parents about the importance of safe sleep is vital," said Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder during a press conference Monday, March 25 at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Royal Oak.
In Wayne County alone, there have been nine infant sleep-related deaths in a two-week period, according to a March 14, 2013 press release. And the sad reality is that all 144 of the fatalities from the past year could have been prevented.
How? It's as simple as ABC: alone, back, crib.
"This initiative is something that is easy to do because it doesn't cost money," Dr. Fozia Saleem-Rasheed, a board-certified neonatologist at Beaumont, told Metro Parent. No fancy monitors to keep an eye on your child; parents simply have to follow these three guidelines to avoid this preventable death.
Tips for safe sleeping
The safe-sleep initiative focuses on creating safe-sleep environments for children – and Saleem-Rasheed, along with the rest of the Beaumont team, aims to educate parents on the consequences of poor sleep habits.
"We try to model proper safe sleep practices so parents hear it and see it," Saleem-Rasheed says of the hospital.
When it comes to applying these ABCs, Saleem-Rasheed says to free your child's crib of all the extras – from plushies and bumpers to quilts and heavy comforters. Place children to sleep on their backs, as well, and do not co-sleep.
Do not place your child in your bed or in bed with a sibling. This only increases the chance of a tragedy – because a parent can roll over and onto their child, causing him to suffocate.
"The only safe place for a baby is in a crib of their own," Snyder says.
In addition to sleep habits, Saleem-Rasheed cautions breastfeeding mothers to feed children out of bed. Yes, breastfeeding is beneficial to a child's health – but, Saleem-Rasheed says, "we underestimate the fatigue in parenting," and the fact that many breastfeeding moms will fall asleep with their child on their chest. If that mom rolls onto her child, she could kill him.
When breastfeeding, sit on a rocking chair but do not sit on a couch or sofa, where it is easier to doze off.
In addition, the Michigan Department of Human Services' website says not to smoke around your baby, overdress or overheat him – and make sure the child is sleeping on a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet.