A coalition of local organizations is urging parents to keep their baby's crib clear of clutter. It's the core message of the Safe Sleep campaign, spearheaded by Safe Kids Upstate New York, out of Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.
Clemencia Molina, regional coordinator of the Central New York Sudden Infant and Child Death Resource Center, said it's common to see a child's crib filled with stuffed animals, blankets and pillows.
"Many parents, especially in our climate, will have nice fluffy things they believe will keep babies warm, and they do keep them warm. But they also can come loose and wrap around the babies face," Molina said. "Many of these things are leading to suffocation, asphyxiation, sometimes wedging and strangulation of the babies."
Molina said this message is the latest incarnation of a 20-year-old campaign telling parents to let babies sleep on their backs. That campaign cut the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in half. But when those numbers leveled off, experts realized that cluttered cribs were also leading to infant deaths.
Molina said that many parents have a hard time believing that keeping a clear crib makes the environment safer.
"Many people have raised their kids in cribs and pack and plays that were full of stuff. The baby didn't die," Molina said. "We come along with recommendations and they say, 'that doesn't make sense to me, because I did that.' But just because the worse did not happen, doesn't mean the risk wasn't there."
Molina says instead of blankets, parents should use sleeping sacks to keep a baby warm in a crib.
As part of the Safe Sleep campaign, Safe Kids Upstate New York will distribute thousands of these sleeping sacks to new parents across central New York.