JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – October is Safe Sleep month and parents along with soon-to-be parents are urged to know the ABC's of keeping children safe while they sleep.
It's part of a nationwide effort to spread the word about the number of unsafe sleep deaths and how they can be prevented.
About 3,500 babies in the United States die suddenly and unexpectedly each year. While about half are due to unknown causes, about 900 are due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
While it's safe and even encouraged for your newborn to sleep in the room where you sleep, they should never be in your bed.
Wolfson Children's hospital says the safest place for them to sleep is in a crib, bassinet or a pack-n-play.
Cynthia Dennis with Safe Kids Florida says children under one are at risk of dying in their sleep.
"They have these big heavy heads. We always tell people a newborns head is a third of the size of their body, and they have weak neck muscles. So they have no control over that big heavy head," Dennis explained. "That first-year babies are vulnerable, they can't tell you when they are in danger."
Dennis said the local numbers are alarming, with Duval County holding the highest infant mortality rate in the state. 27 infants died of sleep-related causes in Jacksonville in 2018.
Those sleep-related deaths are tied to babies sleeping with blankets or stuffed animals, or who co-sleep with an adult who rolls on top of the baby, suffocating them.
When they are sleeping, they don't have the ability to roll their head or get out of a suffocation risk.
To help you remember the right way to practice Safe Sleep there is an ABC acronym:
- A is for alone; sleeping alone in their own bed.
- B is for back; always place a baby on its back to sleep.
- C is for crib — make sure the crib has a firm mattress with a tight sheet and no toys or blankets.
It's important to always remember to take your child out of the car at the same time you take your car seat out and place them on their backs in a safe sleeping area.