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Posted on: October 5, 2021

Newport News Launches “On the Safe Side” Sleep Campaign

Too often, the tranquil scene of a sleeping baby can turn tragic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the cause for one out of three sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States.  Recent research also shows that unsafe bedding, such as soft or loose blankets in a baby’s sleep area, remains a leading cause of infant death.  Since January of this year, there have been five infant deaths in Newport News attributed to unsafe sleeping arrangements.

To prevent future deaths while honoring Safe Sleep and SIDS Awareness Month, the Newport News Department of Human Services has launched an “On the Safe Side” campaign.  This initiative educates parents, family members, caregivers and the community about safe sleeping practices. 

“Raising a child can be overwhelming, and new parents especially have a great deal they must learn when they bring their baby home from the hospital,” said Ven Thomas, Director of the Newport News Department of Human Services.  “This campaign shares critical information with parents and encourages them to remain ‘On the Safe Side’ when it comes to their child’s sleep practices. We are also conducting extensive outreach to expectant and new parents to ensure safe sleep remains top of mind.”

Each week, the city will distribute helpful tips on social media and encourage others to share the posts.  Tips are shared in a short, easy to follow format and include:

  • Always place the baby on their back to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Use a firm and flat mattress in a safety-approved crib that is free of soft and loose bedding, such as bumpers, stuffed animals, and blankets.
  • Place babies in their own sleep space – avoid co-sleeping.
  • Make sure babies aren’t wearing loose items, such as hats, bows or clip-on pacifiers.
  • Do not use a seat or swing as a permanent sleep space.

The community is encouraged to post photos of their baby in a safe sleep environment with the hashtag #onthesafeside.  

“Engagement is a key part of this campaign,” said Thomas.  “We hope that the community photos we are tagged in will inspire other parents, family members and caregivers to evaluate their child’s crib and speak up if they see something unsafe.  By working together, we can ensure our babies continue to live, grow and thrive.”

Newport News created “On the Safe Side” as part of the national “Safe to Sleep” initiative.  To learn more about this public education campaign led by the National Institute of Health, visit their website.

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