#childsafety | How to prevent infant sleep-related deaths


SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is still killing infants in Sacramento County.

While Sacramento County reports that the total number of infant sleep-related deaths has decreased from 25 deaths in 2012 to 10 deaths in 2019, these deaths are still occurring.

“We continue to educate new parents about the risks of SIDS. These deaths can be prevented and it’s our mission to help families learn safe sleep environments to safeguard against this,” said Alicia McHatton, a clinical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse who co-leads the safe sleep initiative at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

All sleep-related deaths of Sacramento babies have involved one of the following unsafe sleep environments:

  • Co-sleeping (sleeping in the same bed with their parent or caregiver)
  • Unsafe sleep position (for example, sleeping on their tummy)
  • Unsafe home environment (smoking or drug use in the home)
  • Baby’s face or body was obstructed (by blankets, pillows or stuffed animals, for example)
  • Caregiver fell asleep while feeding baby

UC Davis Children’s Hospital partners with the Child Abuse Prevention Center to promote safe sleep practices, including the ABC’s of safe sleep:

A is for alone: The baby should sleep alone – no co-sleeping with a parent or siblings.

B is for back: The baby should be lying on his or her back on a firm, flat surface for all naps and at night.

C is for crib: The baby should sleep in a crib, bassinet or cradle – not sharing a bed with a parent.

Other safety tips include:

  • Do not overdress the baby.
  • Do not put anything in the baby’s sleep area. No crib bumpers, stuffed animals, loose blankets or pillows.
  • Do not smoke around the baby.
  • Parents are invited to bring their baby’s crib or bassinet near their own bed. This is co-rooming, not co-sleeping.
  • Use a sleep sack.

UC Davis Children’s Hospital has been recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a gold safe sleep champion for its commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep.

Since 2017, UC Davis Children’s Hospital has provided sleep sacks for all infants in the hospital and health care providers have been trained in safe sleep practices.

“We are committed to promoting best sleep safe practices in our hospital and providing this training to all of our new parents so they can provide the safest environment for their new baby,” McHatton said.

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