Chautauqua County Health Department Urges Residents to Follow Safe Sleep Practices for Infants

Submitted by Justin Gould on Thu, 10/05/2023 - 07:43

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. – October is Safe Sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month.  As part of their work to prevent disease, promote health and protect the safety of the community, the Chautauqua County Health Department’s (CCHD) Community Health and Coroner Divisions offer simple tips to provide safe sleep for infants.

A baby’s death due to unsafe sleep practices and SIDS is tragic, heartbreaking and often preventable, yet over 90 infants die each year in New York State due to these circumstances. CCHD recommends avoiding unsafe infant sleeping and to follow these guidelines.

Safe sleep for infants:

Unsafe sleep for infants:

  • Infants should be placed on their back in a crib,
    bassinet or playpen with a firm surface free of
    blankets, stuffed animals, bumper pads and
    other soft objects.


  • with adults, children or pets
  • on their stomachs or sides
  • with blankets, stuffed animals, bumper pads or other soft objects
  • on a couch, swing, car seat or any place other than a crib, bassinet or playpen

“Safe sleep awareness month serves as a reminder to not allow infants to sleep with parents or caregivers,” states Dr. Michael Faulk, Chief Medical Officer, Coroner Physician and Interim Public Health Director. “Infants cannot rollover or uncover blankets from their face, placing them at greater risk of suffocation. As a dad of 5 kids myself, I personally understand the motivation or temptation to co-sleep with an infant, but this practice has resulted in tragic consequences right here within our own County.”

“While it is easy to take a fussy baby into bed with you at night so everyone can sleep, it is also very dangerous,” said Cathy Burgess, Director of Community Health Nursing.  “Following simple guidelines can prevent a fatal mistake.”

Families should remember the ABCs of safe sleeping for infants:

  • Alone: Having the infant sleep alone means not sleeping with adults or other children and not have anything in the crib with them. You can use a sleep sack as a blanket for the colder months
  • Back: Infants should be placed on their back so their mouth and nose are not obstructed from breathing. It is important to allow for “tummy time” every day when the baby is awake. Putting your baby on their tummy helps the baby develop strong shoulders and neck muscles.
  • Crib: The crib should only have a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. Having extra items in the crib like blankets, stuffed animals and bumper pads, can lead to the infant suffocating.
  • Smoke-free home: Removing smoke from the home will decrease the risk of toxins getting into their system and the risk of SIDS

Other important details to remember about Safe Sleep include removing any hanging window cords or electrical wires near where your baby sleeps.  Do not sleep with your infant especially if you have been using alcohol or drugs that include legal and illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  Be aware when a caregiver is overtired. The caregiver could fall asleep and roll on top of the infant. For more tips on Safe Sleep, visit our website at www.HealthyCHQ.com.                   

Safe sleep education is provided by public health nurses during home visits through the CCHD’s Welcome Home Baby program. This program provides every new parent in the county a one-time visit with one of our public health nurses. Additional education provided during these visits includes information on breastfeeding, infant growth and development, immunizations and more.  For more information on our Welcome Home Baby program, visit www.HealthyCHQ.com.

More information and resources on Safe Sleep, SIDs and SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) from the New York State Department of Health can be found at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/conditions/safesleep.

About Chautauqua County Health Department - The Chautauqua County Health Department is the leading Public Health organization in Chautauqua County dedicated to the support of the community’s health.  The Health Department takes innovative approaches to provide technical assistance to partner organizations, and offers various programs and services in order to help prevent disease, protect the public’s health and promote our community’s overall health and wellness.  For more information visit www.HealthyCHQ.com.


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