My grandmother used to tell me how when she first had my uncle she and my grandfather were so poor that they couldn’t afford a crib, so she’d put my uncle in an open dresser drawer to sleep. Luckily, my uncle turned out fine, but last year many Black babies didn’t, resulting in 83 percent of all deaths from unsafe infant sleeping situations.
Experts think the odds are against African-American babies in particular because of cultural practices and economics and have already started promoting programs that offer resources to get the message out on how children should sleep. Cribs for Kids is a national service that gives safe-sleep education to low-income parents and gives free cribs to families that can't afford them.
Here are some tips to help you protect your baby while they sleep:
— Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep.
— Babies should be put to sleep in a safety-approved crib or bassinet.
— Make sure the mattress in the crib is firm and fits, if it has gaps between it and the crib, replace it.
— Check to make sure the fitted sheet is the right size for the mattress.
— Never allow bumper pads, pillows, blankets, toys and stuffed animals in the crib with your baby.
— Keep the temperature of the baby's room between 68°F and 75°F.
— Dress the baby in one layer of comfortable clothes and place cribs out of the way of heating vents so they won't overheat.
For more information on infant sleep safety visit The Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission (CDNDSC) or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
(Photo: SHAWANO CLEARY/Newhouse News Service/Landov)