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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Riley Hospital for Children and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana are teaming together to raise awareness about safe sleep. Safe sleep practices can reduce the risk of sudden infant deaths or SIDS.

“For us a perfect world is where people won’t need the Ronald McDonald House,” says Michelle Study-Campbell with the Ronald McDonald House. “So, we started looking at what’s the number one reason that are bringing children and families into the emergency room and into the hospital. And we looked at those preventable injuries, and the number one cause of death in infants is safe sleep issues.”

Indiana is one of the worst in the nation when it comes to infant mortality rates. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, in 2016 more than 600 babies died before the age of one. Nearly 14% of those were because of unsafe sleep practices or unintentional suffocation.

On average, at least one infant dies a week in Indiana because of things like bed-sharing or unsafe sleep practices.

“There are a lot of things that parents may have questions about,” says Casie Smith with Gymboree Play & Music in Greenwood. “As a new parent, nobody really tells you all of these things, so you’re learning all of these things all at once which is terrifying.”

Riley and the Ronald McDonald House want to make sure no parent loses their child because of unsafe sleep, so they’re holding a safe sleep class to educate parents.

They recommend following the ABC’s of safe sleep.

  • A – Alone: That means no blankets, toys, pillow or parents in the bed with baby. Pacifiers are okay, but only if they’re plain with no attachments.
    Riley experts say the clips that attach to baby’s shirts or stuffed animals attached to a pacifier can cause accidental suffocation. So, it’s best to just have a plain one with your baby.
    While they recommend parents not sleep with baby, they do say the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, room sharing decreased the risk of SIDS by nearly 50%.
  • B – Back: They recommend laying baby on his or her back when they go to sleep. Statistics show infants have a higher risk of dying from SIDS if they sleep on their stomachs.
  • C – Crib: Your baby should be sleeping on a flat surface. They recommend a crib, bassinet or pack and play.

Officials at Riley also warn that another cause of SIDS is overheating. They say a baby only needs to be wearing what an adult would going to sleep. Blankets can not only cause accidental suffocation but also overheat the baby.

Katy Mann writes the popular blog Indy with Kids. Her 2-month-old baby passed away in her sleep, so this cause is very important to her. She knows the pain of losing a child, and she doesn’t want any other parent to feel what she did.

“The hardest part is not having that baby with you. I mean, that was your baby and your baby’s gone,” Mann says. “And then trying to tell the siblings about the baby. We’re in a situation where two children before our baby died and two more after our baby died, so we have this kind of weird dynamic in our family where it’s like before and after.”

“Trying to be a family like that afterwards, it’s so weird,” she goes on to say. “And there’s so many different challenges and forever we’ll miss that baby. We love that baby.”

Riley and The Ronald McDonald House will be holding a safe sleep event on November 7th. It will be at the Mcdonald’s at 5617 N. Michigan Road in Indianapolis. The class starts at 9 a.m.