State tells ABCs of getting babies to sleep

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) –It's not uncommon for new mothers to want to have their babies sleep with them. But last year, in Texas alone, 167 babies were killed by accidental suffocation.

"Families are devastated," said Theresa Martinez, CPS child safety specialist.

Child Protective Services felt something had to be done. Theresa Martinez is a child safety specialist, a part of a statewide effort to educate parents about the best way to put their baby to bed. They call it the ABCs of safe sleep.

"Alone, on your back, in a crib in a cool place, in a smoke-free environment," Martinez said.

Giving babies room to breathe is a focus of the outreach and that means putting the baby to bed in its own crib.

"I want my baby to sleep by themselves because you sleep better, your baby sleeps better, if you're not crowded in the bed," Martinez said.

That means avoiding couches, recliners, air mattresses and waterbeds. And for tired, new moms this may be hard.

"Your baby's crying and it's the easiest thing," Martinez said. "You're breast-feeding - you're doing whatever and you just let the baby sleep with you."

Lufkin family practioner Andrew Fercowicz says being overly tired increases the dangers.

"You might not realize that you're basically sleeping on your own new born baby," Fercowicz said.

The parents education begins when they take their baby home from the hospital. Family and protective services wants that education to continue when they take that baby back to the doctor.

"Every baby should have their own place to sleep," Fercowicz said. "Their own crib with very firm mattress."

Spreading the word can prevent more families from dealing with this tragedy.

"Families that do this are typically really good parents and they want to spend time with their baby and they're just trying to do the right thing and they didn't have the information," Martinez said.

It's information that families should share because it could safe an infant's life.

It's also important that the baby's crib is free of soft pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. It may seem more comfortable and cute, but is actually dangerous. It could trap a baby's face and suffocate them.

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