BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - So far this year in East Baton Rouge Parish, there have been nine infant deaths attributed to unsafe sleeping environments.
This is not SIDS. In fact, SIDS got inaccurately attached to a lot of these kinds of deaths years ago, but these can be prevented. Now, many local leaders and agencies are trying to do exactly that with a new campaign.
"Safe sleep is the most important part of being a new parent," said Angela Hammett, the prenatal education coordinator at Woman's Hospital.
A safe sleeping environment for your baby is something you may think you have covered, but you may actually be inadvertently putting your baby at real risk. In East Baton Rouge Parish alone, there are 10 to 20 cases per year of deaths now attributed to unsafe sleeping environments.
"Certainly, when I see people die of things that I think are preventable, I try to educate the public so we can prevent future death," said Dr. Beau Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner.
There are two main issues when it comes to unsafe sleeping environments. The first is co-sleeping. What can happen here is at some point, the adult or older sibling rolls over.
"The child becomes lodged beneath the parent and suffers what we call medically positional asphyxia, which means that they suffocate," Clark explained.
The other main problem is a crib that is unsafe. This can be a hard sell because we're not talking about the hardware here or how it's made. We're talking about what's in the crib.
"It's hard because I know moms want the cute bumper pads and to make the nursery just precious, but your baby's safety is the most important thing. The safest place for them to sleep is in a crib with nothing else in the crib - no bumper pads, no blankets no stuffed animals," Hammett added.
So, you may be asking, "What about those cold nights when they need a blanket?" Wearable blankets are the answer here. There are many different types and varieties. Just make sure it's nothing too loose.
Over the last few years, discussing safe sleeping habits has really become a prerequisite before new parents leave the hospital. That discussion is about to find its way in front of a new audience as well - first responders.
"When they get into the house and see the situation, an infant in an unsafe sleeping environment, they can act," said Det. Robert Cook with the Baton Rouge Police Department. "We want them to be able to give tips to the mother and tell them how the infant should be placed."
In fact, the next cadet class at the BRPD Training Academy will have lessons on safe sleeping environments. It's going to be part of the "Cops 'N Cribs" initiative. It's designed to help make portable cribs available to those in real need. The hope is that it puts a real dent in the number of young lives lost before they really get started.
If you'd like some more information on safe sleeping environments, you're in luck. Woman's Hospital is hosting "Baby Grand" this Saturday. And, Cortana Mall is hosting "The Ultimate Community Baby Shower," also this Saturday. Both events will be able to provide some great resources and answer a lot of questions you may have.