By Polly Keary, Editor
Nine of 10 infants who die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, die in places other than a properly constructed crib.
That tragedy doesn’t have to happen to any infant in the Sky Valley, though, no matter the financial situation of the child’s family.
Thanks to a grant, the Monroe Police Department has about 100 cribs to give away to any family that needs one.
The idea for the cribs program came from a woman who visited the Monroe Fire Department to do some training on SIDS.
“Afterwards she said, ‘I want to start a program. It has been done in other counties,’” said Cindy Chessie, a sergeant with the Monroe Police Department.
Two cities, Monroe and Bothell, were eventually selected for pilot programs to give away safe cribs.
As it happened, Deborah Robinson of the Monroe Police, a former Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy, lost a child to SIDS years ago and now teaches nationwide about infant safety.
Robinson wrote a grant for $2,500 for cribs and won it, and then the grant was matched by anti-SIDS organization Cribs for Kids. The Monroe Police Department contributed about $600, giving the station about $5,600 to spend on cribs.
The crib-making company Graco gave the Monroe Police a special deal on cribs, selling them to the station for $50 each. That means the station can give away more than 100 cribs.
That could reduce the risk of SIDS considerably in the Sky Valley.
Although SIDS is defined as the sudden death of a child under a year of age, the cause of which can’t be determined by autopsy, some risk factors associated with SIDS are known.
Risk factors include placing a baby on the stomach to sleep; presence of cigarette smoke during pregnancy or after birth, sleeping in the same bed with infants, soft bedding in the crib, premature birth, being one of multiples, having a sibling who died of SIDS, late or no prenatal care, poverty conditions, drug use during pregnancy, pregnancies following close together, and being born to a teen mother.
A leading factor, though, seems to be the location in which the infant sleeps.
“Infants who sleep in an unsafe environment, including adult beds, have a 40 percent higher chance of dying,” said Chessey. “They smother; there are roll-overs.”
Some families are at higher risk for unsafe sleeping arrangements when, to avoid the cost of a crib, they share bedding with an infant.
So for those families who might otherwise forgo a crib because of the expense, or who may have a crib that is old and potentially unsafe, or simply any young family just starting out, there are cribs available free at the Monroe Police Department. Call (360) 794-6300 to make arrangements to get one.
Safety Precautions to avoid SIDS
The Revised American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines, released in October 2005, recommend the following:
- • Always put a baby to sleep on its back. (This includes naps.) Do NOT put a baby to sleep on its stomach. Side sleeping is unstable and should also be avoided. Allowing the baby to roll around on its tummy while awake can prevent a flat spot (due to sleeping in one position) from forming on the back of the head.
- • Only put babies to sleep in a crib. Never allow the baby to sleep in bed with other children or adults, and do NOT put them to sleep on surfaces other than cribs, like a sofa.
- • Let babies sleep in the same room (NOT the same bed) as parents. If possible, babies’ cribs should be placed in the parents’ bedroom to allow for night-time feeding.
- • Avoid soft bedding materials. Babies should be placed on a firm, tight-fitting crib mattress with no comforter. Use a light sheet to cover the baby. Do not use pillows, comforters, or quilts.
- • Make sure the room temperature is not too hot. The room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. A baby should not be hot to the touch.
- • Offer the baby a pacifier when going to sleep. Pacifiers at naptime and bedtime can reduce the risk of SIDS. Doctors think that a pacifier might allow the airway to open more, or prevent the baby from falling into a deep sleep. A baby that wakes up more easily may automatically move out of a dangerous position. If the baby is breastfeeding, it is best to wait until 1 month before offering a pacifier, so that it doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding. Do not force a baby to use a pacifier.
- • Do not use breathing monitors or products marketed as ways to reduce SIDS. In the past, home apnea (breathing) monitors were recommended for families with a history of the condition. But research found that they had no effect, and the use of home monitors has largely stopped.
- • Other recommendations from SIDS experts:
- • Keep your baby in a smoke-free environment.
- • Breastfeed your baby, if possible. Breastfeeding reduces some upper respiratory infections that may influence the development of SIDS.
- • Never give honey to a child younger than 1 year old. Honey in very young children may cause infant botulism, which may be associated with SIDS.