Experts discuss ways to create a safe sleeping environment for babies

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Governor Mike Parson declared October as infant sleep awareness month as a way to draw more attention to safe sleep environments for babies.

Experts say when parents and caregivers use the ABC’s of safe sleep or the baby sleeping alone, on their back, and in a bare crib, the infant is more likely to live to see their first birthday.

“Every year in the state of Missouri around 90 babies die as a result of unsafe sleep practices,” Emily van Schenkhof the executive director at the Children’s Trust Fund said.

These deaths are 100% preventable van Schenkhof says.

“If we did something a little different we could save those lives,” van Schenkhof said.

van Schenkhof says as society changes so has our knowledge of how babies sleep best.

“When I was a new parent my mom encouraged me to co-sleep with my kids and my mom certainly didn’t want to hurt those kids and that’s how she raised us by doing that,” van Schenkhof said.

But, research now shows co-sleeping isn’t safe for babies.

“It is really important that our knowledge and our education changes as our understanding of issues change,” van Schenkhof said.

“Sleeping in the same room with parents is definitely encouraged all the way through at least six months of age but not in the same bed,” Becky Spain with Mercy Hospital said.

Spain says instead of a blanket, consider using a sleep sack or wearable blanket..

“That’ll keep the child warm enough at night they don’t need that blanket over them if that blanket were to come across their airway once again they can’t get that off,” Spain said.

Both stress the importance of reminding everyone who cares for a baby, including babysitters and family members, how to keep a baby safe while sleeping.

Experts say to never put pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, soft objects and toys in your baby’s sleep area.

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