This week, First Lady Casey DeSantis, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Prevent Child Abuse Florida recognized October as Safe Sleep Awareness Month, highlighting preventative measures to decrease sleep-related infant deaths, the leading cause of death for children under the age of one in Florida.
In 2019, there were at least 69 confirmed infant deaths in Florida as a result of unsafe sleep.
“As the mother of three young children, including a six-month-old, I understand the worries that many parents and caregivers experience when bringing a new baby home,” said DeSantis. “Creating a safe sleep environment for your children serves as yet another precaution we can all take to keep our babies safe, healthy, and thriving.”
“Prioritizing child safety is about more than removing potential hazards from your home. Too often, parents of infants have to suffer with the loss of their precious children due to unsafe sleeping practices,” said DCF Sec. Chad Poppell. “Sharing prevention strategies to ensure fewer families experience this type of tragedy is critical to keeping Florida’s children safe and families strong.”
Prevent Child Abuse Florida recommends the following guidelines for safe sleep:
- Do not put anything in your baby’s bed, such as sheepskins, stuffed animals, baby positioners, crib wedges, comforters, pillows, blankets, or bumper pads.
- Place your baby face up to sleep, as sleeping on the stomach or side increases the risk of suffocation.
- Make sure your baby’s crib, bassinet, cradle, or portable crib is undamaged and meets current Consumer Products Safety Commission standards. Never let your baby sleep on an adult bed, air mattress, beanbag, reclining chair, sofa, or any furniture not made for babies.
“Using an unsafe sleep environment is the number one cause of infant death in Florida. These tragedies are completely preventable. We urge parents to learn safe sleep practices and implement them every time your baby sleeps,” said Chris Lolley from Prevent Child Abuse Florida.
The risk of infant death is 40 times higher for babies who sleep in adult beds, as suffocation and strangulation in an adult bed is the leading cause of injury-related death for infants in Florida.