Unsafe sleep is the leading cause of non-natural infant death in Virginia, with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) accounting for approximately 3,500 deaths in the United States annually. Despite the dangers, a recent Longitudinal Infant and Family Environment (L.I.F.E.) study funded by the Virginia Department of Social Services revealed that many caregivers continue to use soft bedding, which increases the risk of SUID, along with pillows or stuffed toys, which can cause accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. You can help minimize the risk of sleep-related infant death by following simple, life-saving practices each time an infant is placed to sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports nearly one in five sleep-related deaths occur while an infant is in the care of someone other than a parent or usual caregiver. It is vital that everyone caring for a baby, including child care providers, grandparents, foster parents, and siblings, are aware and adopt the following practices when placing an infant to sleep:
ALONE on his/her back, but within the same room as their caregiver
APART from toys, blankets, pillows or other objects to avoid suffocation, and
ALWAYS in a separate safe sleep space such as a crib or bassinet, a drug- and alcohol-free environment
We all have an important role to play in keeping Virginia's children safe. Let's work together to bring greater awareness to safe sleep practices, and ensure infants have a safe and healthy start in life. Learn more about safe sleep practices.