(WHNT) — The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on you to do your part and prevent sleep-related infant deaths. The academy is calling it the ABCs of safe sleep.

Alone: nothing but baby—babies should not sleep on the same surface with anyone else and there should be no loose items, such as soft toys, blankets, or bumper pads in their cribs

On their Back: for every sleep at bedtime and for naps

In their Crib: always return the baby to his/her own sleep area – not in adult beds, even for naps

Where babies sleep and how they sleep is a concern. The academy has added new guidelines with more details to lower a baby’s risk of dying while sleeping. 

Sleep-related infant deaths are still a major problem in Alabama. In 2020, 404 babies tragically died before their first birthday. Of those deaths, 61 were officially ruled sleep-related with the cause of death listed as either “sudden infant death syndrome” or “accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed.” An additional 41 deaths were listed as “undetermined” – – although many of those deaths occurred while the baby was sleeping.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield, Alabama Department of Public Health District Medical Officer, acknowledges that new parents are often exhausted. He says safe sleep can be hard, but your baby’s life is worth it.

“The thing about sleep-related deaths in infants is that they are preventable. We want to do the things that we can prevent and we know the tactics to do that – which is to put the baby on their back every time, alone and in their crib. Anything that we can do to get the word out to the public, our health care providers, and to those taking care of children is really important.”

There are risk factors that caregivers can control to lower their baby’s risk of dying while sleeping.

What families can do:

  • Share your room, but not your bed
  • Put babies in their own crib with nothing else
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink or use mind-altering medications while caring for your baby
  • Breastfeed if possible
  • Have a plan: set a timer when you are tired
  • If you have dozed off and wake up, return your baby to the crib
  • Tummy time: work up to several sessions a day that add up to 15-30 minutes by 7 weeks of age. This always needs to be supervised
  • Make sure everyone who cares for your baby follows these guidelines
  • If you cannot afford a crib, call (334) 206-5675 and ask about Cribs for Kids

What providers can do:

  • Have empathetic conversations with your patients
  • Acknowledge how hard safe sleep can be
  • Recognize sleep deprivation and recommend that they get help

The State Perinatal Program is organizing an Alabama Public Health Training Network satellite conference and live webcast titled “Talking to Parents and Caregivers about Safe Sleep.”

The event will be Thursday, August 25 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (CST). For more information and to register, visit this link.