First Lady Sue Snyder visits Lansing's Sparrow Hospital to help raise awareness for infant safe sleep practices

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – It is important for parents and caregivers to place their infants in a safe sleep environment, Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder said today at a press conference at Sparrow Hospital.

The press conference is part of Infant Safe Sleep Month in Michigan. During the month of September, the First Lady and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are working to generate greater awareness and highlight successes in Michigan – including enhanced efforts by hospitals, such as Sparrow, to better educate parents and other caregivers about safe sleep.

“In Michigan, a baby dies because of unsafe sleep every two or three days,” First Lady Sue Snyder said. “This is an unacceptable statistic, and until we see the day when this number is zero, our work is far from over. I am confident that by working together, we can help ensure no family has to experience the loss of a child due to unsafe sleep practices.”

Newly released data shows that 142 Michigan babies died of sleep-related causes in 2016. From 2010 to 2016, there were 1.3 sleep-related infant deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Case Registry, Michigan Public Health Institute. This rate has remained stable from 2010 to 2016, meaning an infant dies because of unsafe sleep every two or three days in Michigan.

Sleep-related infant deaths are those that involve unsafe sleep environments, including the use of soft bedding; articles in the crib, such as toys or blankets; an infant sleeping in an adult bed or on a couch or sofa chair; an infant sleeping with another adult or child; or an infant sleeping on their stomach or side.

To reduce these types of infant deaths, parents and caregivers should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines to create safe sleep environments for infants:

  • Place infants on their back in a crib, bassinet or pack-n-play every sleep time.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet.
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib, including pillows, blankets and bumper pads.
  • Do not use wedges or positioners.
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends infants sleep in the same room as parents – but not in the same bed – for at least the first six months of their lives.

“Michigan has taken many actions over the last several years to improve safe sleep awareness,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “The Infant Safe Sleep Act of 2014 requires hospitals to provide safe sleep education to families after the birth of a baby. MDHHS provides safe sleep education grants to local communities and works with medical and child care providers, faith-based organizations and others so that they can spread the word. We need to do more until no baby is lost due to unsafe sleep.”

MDHHS has recognized Sparrow for going above and beyond the requirements for safe sleep education.

“While moms and newborns stay at Sparrow, we recognize that we have a window of opportunity to model and educate regarding safe sleep practices,” said Kathleen Marble, director of Sparrow Hospital’s Women and Children’s Services. “Each interaction with mom and her baby is an opportunity to teach, reinforce and promote safe sleep practices. A safe sleep contract signed by new parents on the Sparrow Mother Baby Unit helps to reinforce all the practices of safe sleep for infants. This contract agreement encourages open dialogue on safe sleep between new parents and their bedside nurse and is among the reasons we’ve been recognized nationally for our practices.”

From 2010 through 2016, there were 1,013 sleep-related infant deaths in Michigan.

In 577 of the 1,013 deaths, or 57 percent, the infant was sleeping on the same surface as another person or an animal. In 479 of the incidents, or 47 percent, the baby was sleeping in an adult bed.

To learn more on infant safe sleep, visit