Spreading the word about safe sleep for infants

(Posted April 21, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Health and wellness agencies in Madison County are stepping up efforts to spread the word about safe sleep environments for young children following the recent sleep-related deaths of two infants in London.

“When you have a couple of recent infant deaths, it really hits home in a small community,” said Amanda Morgan, early childhood program manager for the Madison County Department of Family and Children. “As agencies here in the community–with how closely we work together–it has really pulled us all together to realize what all we are doing and what more we can do to help.”

Education is key, she said. The Department of Family and Children reviews safe sleep practices with every family who enrolls in their early childhood programs, such as Help Me Grow and Early Head Start. They also conduct safe sleep questionnaires with families they serve who are expecting a child or who have a newborn. The questionnaires ask parents about sleep accommodations at home. Pediatricians and other agencies, such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), share the same type of information with parents.

Rocking Horse Community Health Center in London launched a social media campaign this month to share tips for safe sleep environments for infants. Among them are the ABCs of Safe Sleep: Alone, Back, Crib.

Every week in Ohio, three babies die in unsafe sleep environments. According to information from the Ohio Department of Health, babies are safest alone, on their back, in an empty crib. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to choke than those who sleep on their stomachs. Two out of three babies who died while sleeping were sharing an adult bed, couch, or chair.

Other safe sleep tips include: using a firm sleep surface, like a mattress, covered by a fitted sheet in a safety-approved crib or play yard; making sure nothing is covering the baby’s head; dressing the baby in light sleep clothing, like a one-piece sleeper; and leaving blankets out of the crib.

On May 1, the Madison County Healthy Child and Family Consortium will incorporate safe sleep information into its Family Health and Wellness Day. The free drive-through event is geared toward families with children ages birth to 5 years old.

Following the news of the infant deaths in London, London Mayor Patrick Closser sat in on a recent consortium meeting. He is helping to spread the word about safe sleeping environments, in part, by sharing information from the Rocking Horse awareness campaign on his mayor Facebook page.

“This really got to me, and I wanted to see what I could do as a mayor, as a citizen, and as a human,” he said. “If we can reach just one parent, it will be worth it.”

The Department of Family and Children also is working to promote its Partners Plus grant which provides families with equipment to keep their children safe at home. Among those items are cribs, toddler beds and pack-n-plays. Funded by the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, the program is open to income-eligible families who do not have an open case with Madison County Children’s Services. To learn more about the program, contact Amanda Morgan at (740) 845-3880 or amanda.morgan@madison.oh.gov.

For more information about how to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related causes of infant deaths, visit safesleep.ohio.gov.

Family Health & Wellness Drive-Through Event

The Madison County Healthy Child and Family Consortium is hosting a Family Health and Wellness drive-through event from 10 a.m. to noon May 1 in the rear parking lot of Madison County Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS), 200 Midway St., London.

The public is invited to drive through for local resources information, raffle items, and fun giveaways. For details, call (740) 852-7189.

Among the features agencies are: Madison County early childhood programs, Caresource, Head Start, Madison County Public Health/WIC, Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, Madison County DJFS, London Public Library, Chrysalis Health Ohio, Presbyterian Childcare Center, Rocking Horse Community Health Center, Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and Action for Children.

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