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Safe Sleep for Dads

Infant Safe Sleep Resources For Dads & Men In Montgomery County

Every week in Ohio, 3 babies die due to unsafe sleep practices. Most of these deaths are preventable! Teamwork makes the dream work, and it’s important for everyone that cares for babies to practice safe sleep – that means moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and babysitters. We can all work together to keep Montgomery County babies safe.

So what can I do?

There is so much that we all can do to keep Montgomery County babies safe while they sleep, but dads have a special opportunity to make a positive impact. Did you know the risk of a baby dying in their sleep is just as high as a child dying from a car crash? We plan for safety when children are in our cars – buckle up, go the speed limit, and careful lane changes. It’s just as important to take steps for safety when our babies sleep, and it’s as easy as ABC.

Do you want to find community with other fathers in Montgomery County? Contact our Every Parent Matters program, our home visiting program for dads, to help find resources, services, and connection. 937-224-4759.

This may be cute, but it’s not safe

Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Back, and in a Crib to prevent SIDS and suffocation.

Practice the ABCs of safe sleep with every baby in your care

  • A

    Babies should always sleep by themselves. This means no other people, pets, or items like toys, blankets, pillows, or crib bumpers. An empty crib may not be the cutest, but it is the safest. Any items or people that sleep with the baby are a risk of suffocation and death. The easiest way to reduce that risk is by making sure baby is alone every time they sleep.

    If your partner is breastfeeding, there will likely be times late at night when it will be easy for them to accidentally fall asleep with your baby in your bed. Help your partner! Set alarms while your partner is breastfeeding to make sure the baby is placed back in their crib or bassinet. Help set up the crib in your room, next to your bed, so it is easy for your partner to breastfeed and put baby back to sleep in their own safe sleep environment. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to be able to do for your baby, but measures can be taken so you and your partner are prepared in those moments of weakness during late-night feeding sessions!

  • B

    The safest position for your baby to sleep is always on his or her back. This is news to a lot of people, especially for grandmas and grandpas who were taught different things. But we’ve learned a lot, and science has shown that placing babies to sleep on their backs is the best way to reduce the risk of choking.

    When baby is on his back, any vomit will fall back into the ‘food tube’ or the esophagus. This is where we want it to go—back to the stomach where it came from! But if you place baby on their belly, it is much easier for any vomit to fall into the breathing tube, or trachea, which will go to the lungs. If this happens, the baby will choke and have trouble breathing, which may lead to suffocation and death. The best way to prevent this is to place baby to sleep on his back every time he sleeps.

    What about rolling over? The American Academy of Pediatrics – the experts on all things baby – recommends even when your baby starts to roll, that you still place the baby on their back to sleep. If your baby can roll on their own and moves to their belly during sleep, it’s okay to leave them there. But your part in keeping baby safe is to place them on their back every time they sleep, at least until they reach their first birthday.

  • C

    It’s important that every time baby sleeps, you place her in a crib, pack and play, or bassinet. That means no couch, no recliner, no adult bed, no inclined sleepers, no bouncers, and no breastfeeding pillows. Your crib should have a flat, firm mattress. A tightly fitted sheet over the mattress is safe, but no other blankets or mattress pads should be used. Products that are not designed for sleep increase risk of suffocation and death.

    There are a lot of products out right now that look like they are safe for your baby to sleep in. They may even be called ‘sleepers’ and show a sleeping baby on the box. But if it is not a crib, pack and play, or bassinet, it is not recommended for sleep, and may increase the risk of your baby suffocating while they sleep. Many of these products have been recalled, or even banned, but that doesn’t keep them from being sold second-hand at garage sales or online. To look up whether a product has been recalled and for more information about crib safety, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at

The ABCs may sound simple, but it often takes some work and planning to make sure you can follow them. Talk with your partner, your doctor, your parents, your home visitor, and your nurse about safe sleep and how you can plan ahead to keep your baby safe. See our Safe Sleep Plan here to help you plan ahead for safe sleep!

Do you need a safe sleep space for your baby? We can help with that! Call our Cribs for Kids program at 937-496-6831.

Need a car seat or want to learn more about car seat safety? Call Goodwill Easter Seals at 937-528-6301.

Quit Smoking

One of the biggest risk factors for SIDS and infant deaths caused by suffocation is exposure to secondhand smoke. Chemicals in secondhand smoke affect a baby’s brain and how they control their breathing. The risk of the baby dying is increased if the pregnant person smokes during pregnancy and if the baby is exposed after birth. This includes if the partner (that’s you, dad) smokes after the baby arrives. The good news is quitting at any time has benefits, even if the baby is already here! If you and your partner want help to quit smoking (and want to earn diaper vouchers along the way!) contact our Baby & Me Tobacco Free program at 937-496-3282.

Tummy Time

What’s tummy time? It’s what we call the time when baby is placed on their stomach while they are awake and someone is watching. There are fancy mats designed for tummy time, but you don’t need any equipment to do tummy time with your baby, just you, your baby, and a clean surface.

What does tummy time have to do with safe sleep? Tummy time helps to make baby’s neck and shoulder muscles strong! Stronger muscles help baby sit, roll over, and crawl. Those stronger muscles help reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS or other sleep-related deaths. Plus, it helps prevent your baby from developing a flat spot on their head, since they will be sleeping on their back.

Help your baby with tummy time starting on the day you bring them home from the hospital, unless your pediatrician says something differently. A few tummy time sessions a day for just a few minutes at a time will provide the most benefit for your baby. Set out some toys or interesting and safe things for your baby to interact with to make it more enjoyable for baby. Remember, the most important rules of tummy time are making sure baby is awake and that they are supervised.

Watch a video about tummy time here.

Encourage your partner through pregnancy and after baby is here

If possible, attend prenatal appointments and childbirth classes and ask questions! You are a second set of eyes and ears for your partner to learn and also to watch for warning signs with your partner’s health. You could be the one that recognizes that baby or your partner is in danger! But only if you know the warning signs first.

Encourage and support your partner in their breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding is not easy, and your support could make a huge difference for your partner. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation before a baby’s first birthday is by breastfeeding. Help your partner make a plan, check with your partner’s insurance to see if a breast pump is covered, and help your partner set an alarm while breastfeeding late at night so the baby makes it back in their crib every time. Pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS, but make sure breastfeeding is established before using one! The best pacifiers are the boring pacifiers: no strings, no stuffed animals. Those are choking hazards for your baby.

Share this message with your family, friends, coworkers, babysitters and daycare staff. Make sure that everyone who watches your baby, even for a little bit, knows about safe sleep. It’s a scary thing to think about your baby losing their life, but there are very simple ways that you and your baby’s caregivers can reduce the risk so that your baby can celebrate their first birthday.

Safe Sleep Ambassador Training

Become a Safe Sleep Ambassador! If you want to learn more about how you can keep Montgomery County babies safe, register for free to become a Safe Sleep Ambassador. This training is hosted by Angela Grayson, CHW and Elaine Markland, RN.

Become a Safe Sleep Ambassador

Can my baby sleep in a bedside sleeper?

There are many products available that are called ‘bedside sleepers.’ These can look like a bassinet or crib, but usually have a side that folds down for easy access to baby at night. While this may seem like it is following the ABCs of safe sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics (the experts!) cannot recommend using these for sleep. There is not enough research to prove that they are safe for your baby.

Can my baby sleep in a pack and play?

Yes! Pack and plays are safe for sleep. They have a firm, flat mattress, are enclosed with no bumper pads, and are a safe, separate space for baby. As long as your baby is within the recommended weight limit for your pack and play, it is safe for your baby to sleep in. Be careful of extra products for sale! Some companies sell softer mattresses, extra padding, and blankets for the pack and play. These are not necessary and can be very dangerous for your baby. The only thing that you may want to use is a fitted sheet that fits snugly over the mattress.

What if my baby gets cold?

It’s important to avoid overheating your baby because overheating is a risk for SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, like suffocation. It’s harder to breathe when it’s hot! A good rule of thumb is if you are cold, your baby is probably cold. If you are warm, your baby is probably warm. If your baby is cold while sleeping, it is not safe to place a blanket over them. This can make it hard for them to breathe, and babies are not always strong enough to move blankets or other objects out of the way. Instead, put your baby in a warmer onesie, sleep sack, or wearable blanket to keep them cozy and safe while they sleep.

What about pacifiers?

Pacifiers actually reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep-related deaths, but it’s important to hold off on using one until breastfeeding has been established – usually about 1 month of age.

How do I know what products are recalled?

If you are unsure about whether a product is safe, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at

Should I use a product that claims to reduce the risk of SIDS?

There are no products on the market that are proven to prevent SIDS. Some of these products actually increase the risk of injury or death such as wedges and ‘positioners,’ and some products have been recalled. Many of these products are still available at garage sales or second-hand websites. Before you buy something that claims to protect your baby from SIDS or sleep-related deaths, remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Can’t my baby die from SIDS even if they are in their crib?

Most babies that died in their sleep in our community over the last few years did not die from SIDS – they died from suffocation or asphyxia because their breathing was cut off. Technically, yes, a baby can die from SIDS even if they are following the ABCs of safe sleep. But babies can also die in car accidents while they are in a car seat. That doesn’t mean we don’t use car seats! Some babies that die in their sleep do not die from SIDS, but from suffocation due to sleeping on their belly, with objects or people, or on a mattress that is too soft. Following the ABCs of safe sleep is always the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.

If I sleep with my baby, won’t I know if something is wrong?

Unfortunately, a baby dying from suffocation or SIDS looks just like a baby who is sleeping peacefully. There is no big warning, no terrible cry, and no flashing sign. It is not likely that you will notice a problem, and sleeping in the same bed with your baby actually increases the risk of suffocation. It is especially dangerous to sleep with your baby if you or your partner smoke cigarettes, have drank alcohol or consumed medicine or substances that make you drowsy, and if more than one person is sharing the bed with the baby.

Help! My mother wants to put my baby on their stomach to sleep!

Your mother is following the advice that was given back when you were a baby. That was the best information we had then, but we know a lot more now. Talk to your mother about why the ABCs of safe sleep is recommended, show her this website, and encourage her to become a Safe Sleep Ambassador. It is important that everyone who watches your baby is on the same page when it comes to safe sleep.