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October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Michigan


October 13, 2020 

Contact: Bob Wheaton,, 517-241-2112                                                                                                              


October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Michigan 


LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared October 2020 Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month to call attention to the importance of infants sleeping safely.  


“Far too many Michigan babies die in unsafe sleep environments. Parents, grandparents and caregivers can all play a part to help prevent these deaths,” Governor Whitmer said. 


Recently, Governor Whitmer signed the fiscal year 2021 budget which included funding for her Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies plan she announced at her State of the State address this year. The budget includes $23.5 million for the program which ensures women are given the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies. The program will also work to expand support for interventions that are proven to improve outcomes.   


Babies 0-12 months of age can be kept safe, while sleeping at night and during naps, when American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines are followed: 


  • Place baby on back, in a crib, bassinet or pack ‘n play for every sleep time. 
  • Use a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet. 
  • Keep baby’s sleep space clutter free – no pillows, blankets or toys. 
  • Avoid overheating baby or covering baby’s head. Instead of a blanket, consider using a sleep sack, wearable blanket or footed sleeper to keep baby warm. 
  • Remind everyone who cares for baby, including babysitters and family members, how to keep baby safe while sleeping. 
  • Keep baby in a smoke-free environment.  
  • Support breastfeeding and immunizations. 


Learn more about these guidelines and why they are recommended to keep babies safe by visiting the MDHHS Safe Sleep website


As more parents began following the infant safe sleep recommendations in the 1990s, the number of infant sleep-related deaths dramatically decreased. However, over the last decade, that decrease has slowed. From 2010 to 2018, 1,287 Michigan infants died due to sleep-related causes. 


During the same period, unacceptable disparities have existed in sleep-related infant deaths. Black babies are dying at more than three times the rate of white babies from unsafe sleep environments.  


“Health disparities exist because communities of color often lack access to sufficient  resources, strong support networks, adequate housing, education, jobs, and quality health care,  said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Due to these inequities, black mothers experience life stressors at higher rates than white mothers. These stressors can put babies at higher risk of sleep-related infant death. MDHHS is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of safe sleep to protect newborns so that families don’t have to suffer through these terrible tragedies.” 


Compared to white mothers, Black mothers were more than twice likely to lose their job during pregnancy. In addition, they are 2.5 times more likely to report they were in unsafe housing and four times more likely to report being homeless in the year before their new baby was born.  


“As a state we have prioritized infants safely sleeping through our Mother Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan and our vision of zero preventable deaths and zero health disparities. Together we can achieve this vision and ensure that all mothers, infants and families have the right to optimal health, adequate access to appropriate and timely care, and the opportunity to thrive,” Dr. Khaldun said.  


As part of the effort to prevent future sleep-related deaths, MDHHS is partnering with families, communities, hospitals, local health departments and organizations statewide to raise awareness and promote system changes that result in Michigan babies surviving and thriving in their first year and beyond. 


To learn more about infant safe sleep, visit or contact the Infant Safe Sleep Program at  


To view data related to infant safe sleep practices and sleep-related infant deaths, visit: and


To view the proclamation, click the link below: 

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