WIC highlights Safe Sleep Awareness Month

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is encouraging parents and caregivers to follow the ABCs of safe sleep practices as part of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month. 

Although SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths have decreased, each year more than one in three sudden unexpected infant deaths that occur are related to SIDS.

“According to Our Babies: Safe and Sound, one baby dies every 10 days in West Virginia because of unsafe sleeping,” said Heidi Staats, Director of the West Virginia WIC Program. “This highlights the need for WIC which serves 75% of all infants born in our state, to continue educating families about infant sleep safety. Together, we can continue to encourage and promote positive environments for babies that will aid in reducing SIDS.”

Cribs and bassinets should meet safety standards, have a firm sleep surface, and be free of any loose bedding, bumpers or toys. Sleep positioning devices should be avoided, as they may pose danger to a baby if they were to roll out of the device.

“Safe Sleep is as easy as A-B-C,” Staats said. “The safest place for a baby to sleep is Alone on their Back, and in a Crib, which can be placed next to the caregiver’s bed. When sleeping, babies should be placed on their backs with the direction of their heads changed every day to prevent flat spots and build neck muscle strength.” 

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, which has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 70%.  WIC provides a variety of lactation and breastfeeding resources and can help with breastfeeding difficulties.  

WIC provides services including certified lactation consultants, a breastfeeding peer counselor program, and a breast pump loan program. Additionally, on-demand, unlimited, video-enabled access to a network of maternal and pediatric experts is available for consultation 24/7 through the Pacify app

WIC also provides nutrition counseling, parenting advice, breastfeeding support, food assistance and referral support to help families live healthier lives. WIC services are free for pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and children up to the age of five. Learn more at dhhr.wv.gov/WIC.

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