Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Shevaun Harris today highlighted that Governor Ron DeSantis has recognized October as Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Florida, an effort that is spearheaded by DCF and The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida to reduce sleep-related infant deaths in the Sunshine State.
“Experiencing the loss of a child is tragic, but even more so when simple steps could have been taken to prevent that heartache,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “By informing parents and caretakers on the best practices for safe sleep, we can work together to reduce the number of these fatalities that occur within our communities each year.”
Annually, the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Florida infants under the age of one is attributed to suffocation or strangulation in an adult bed. In 2020 alone, preliminary data shows that 74 infants across the state died due to unsafe sleeping conditions. Safe Sleep Awareness Month aims to raise awareness on these tragedies and to educate families and caregivers on how to create safer sleeping environments to lower the risk of these preventable deaths.
“Babies sleep safest when they are alone, on their backs, in a crib or bassinette, and on a firm, flat mattress with no blankets, toys, or other objects,” said Chris Lolley, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Florida, part of The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida. “When a baby is sleeping in a safe environment, the parent or caregiver can rest a little easier, too, knowing they are taking every step to prevent harm to their little one.”
Taking care of a newborn isn’t easy, but prioritizing a safe sleeping environment is a task that can be made as simple as A-B-C:
- Alone – Do not put pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, toys, soft objects, or loose bedding in a baby’s sleeping area.
- Back – Placing infants on their backs to sleep has drastically reduced infant fatalities from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). “Back to sleep” should always be followed unless under direction from the child’s pediatrician.
- Crib – The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safety-approved crib or bassinette. Cribs should have a firm, flat mattress covered only by a fitted sheet. Sleeping on soft surfaces can increase the risk of SIDS.
Whether an infant is in the care of a parent, grandparent, or childcare provider, all caregivers should promote and follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep guidelines until children are at least one year of age to reduce the risk of sleep-related fatalities. For more information on safe sleep, visit https://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/child-welfare/safesleep or https://www.ounce.org/safe_sleep.html.