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Local mom urges safe sleep: ‘My baby would be alive if she’d been placed on her back’

October is SIDS Awareness Month. It’s an important time to educate the caregivers in your baby’s life about making sure babies are staying safe while they sleep. 

About 3,500 infants die every year in the U.S. from a sleep-related death known as Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). The loss of an infant is unimaginable and overwhelming for any family. Especially when that loss could be prevented. 

We talked to a mother who experienced SUID. She experienced this tragic loss first-hand, and she has a message to share. To honor her privacy, we are not sharing her name. Please read. 

From a mother:

Twenty-one years ago at this time, I was on maternity leave with my baby girl, Lucy. I returned to work on Dec. 11, 2001. On that day, our lives changed in an unfathomable way. Our three-month-old little girl died during her afternoon nap at daycare. It was ruled as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I won’t replay the details because they are just too sad. Her death broke me, my husband, our son, and extended family to pieces.

As I started putting the pieces of our lives back together, I had a lot of unanswered questions. The big one was: What if I had discussed infant sleep safety with our daycare provider…would Lucy be with us today? In searching for the answer, I also became determined that something good would come of Lucy’s tragic death. 

During that search for answers, I began volunteering for the SIDS Foundation of WA (now NISSA – Northwest Infant Survival & SIDS Alliance) and, 18 years later, I continue to do so. These years of experience have shown me the cold, hard facts that more than 60% of infant sleep deaths are preventable. Babies have a much greater chance of surviving naptime and nighttime sleep when parents, grandparents, guardians, and caregivers know and follow infant safe sleep guidelines. If my daughter had been placed on her back to sleep, instead of her tummy, I believe she would be alive today.  

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month as well as Pregnancy, Stillbirth and Infant Loss Awareness Month. In honor of my daughter and all babies who have died, please learn the basics of infant sleep safety and openly discuss the information with those you know.  

I don’t want anyone to go through what our family endured. I don’t want anyone to be in the “my baby died club.” Even though Lucy’s death is still a mystery and I miss her every single day, it gives me great comfort knowing that her story can save babies’ lives and be a source of goodness for families.

You can protect your children or children you care for.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the ABCs of safe infant sleep:

  • Alone—Place your baby in a safe, separate sleep surface. Your baby shouldn’t sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair.
  • Back—Every time you put your baby down to sleep, remember: backside down. Do not place your baby on their tummy or side.
  • Crib—A safe crib has a firm, flat surface (a mattress in a safety-approved crib). The mattress should be covered by a fitted sheet and have no other bedding or soft items.
  • Smoke—Keep baby far away from cigarette, marijuana and vape smoke.

Take a look at some our other blogs on co-sleeping and infant sleep products. For more information and Safe Sleep 101 classes and infant loss bereavement support, visit Northwest Infant Survival & SIDS Alliance.

For more information on safe sleep visit our website.