NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – With October designated as National Safe Sleep Awareness Month across the country, New Hanover County Health and Human Services is reminding residents just how important it is to practice safe sleeping habits with an infant and what they can do to ensure their children’s safety while they sleep.
“In 2020, there were 167 total infant deaths in the state of North Carolina – 89 of which were attributed to sleep-related causes. Of those, two were here in New Hanover County, so this is an issue that hits very close to home,” said Assistant Social Services Director Mary Beth Rubright. “Sleep-related deaths are preventable and it’s so important for parents and caregivers to be mindful of some simple steps they can take to keep their little ones safe.”
Because of their inability to control their body’s movement, infants should always sleep or nap alone and be placed on their backs in an environment with no bumpers, pillows, toys or blankets. A baby should never sleep in an adult bed, on an air mattress, chair or sofa, whether alone or with someone else. The surface a baby sleeps on should be firm, in a safety-approved crib, bassinette or portable play area and the mattresses should only be covered by a fitted sheet
Additionally, infants should be dressed in light clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper or onesie. Also, a baby’s sleeping environment should be in the same room as their caretaker to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or other sleep-related causes of death.
While it’s important for parents and caregivers to practice these habits to ensure a safe sleeping environment, friends and relatives can offer support as well.
“We know that parents and caregivers get tired and sometimes that can lead to an adult falling asleep with a baby near them, which can create a dangerous situation,” continued Rubright. “Having a trusted friend or family member who can help keep an eye on a baby while a parent catches a few moments of rest can be so important. It might not seem like much, but it could truly save a life.”
For more information on safe sleep practices, visit safesleepnc.org.