STATEN ISLAND N.Y. — The NYC Administration for Child Services (ACS) hosted its annual Safe Sleep Awareness Fair Thursday at Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC).
“Every October we go out in the community and we educate,” said Glenda Smith, an ACS safe sleep educator who joined others in educating the public on the safest way to place a baby in a crib for sleep. “We do education and training every day, but we try to do something extra and special in October with events in each borough.”
Along with ACS, attending the fair were representatives from the NYC Health Early Intervention Program and Metro Plus health care. Each had multiple tables offering children’s books, diaper bags, visual car seat guides and educational pamphlets on safe sleep and child passenger safety.
In addition to information tables, cars were available for children’s car seat demonstrations. Additional tables were set up on the corner of Bard and Castleton avenues. October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month.
All family members were welcomed to learn about how to properly put a child to sleep. Even for nap time, Smith was demonstrating how and why babies should be put to sleep on their backs.
For many years parents were encouraged to put babies to sleep on their side or stomach. But, to avoid suffocation fatalities, it is now encouraged to have them sleep on their back.
A baby doll and crib were on hand to show parents not only how to put the baby to bed, but to show what the sleep surface should look like, as well. It should be free of toys, blankets and stuffed animals.
“We give the baby to the parent and say ‘show me how you put them to sleep,’ and they put the baby on their stomach,” said Smith. “Then, we re-educate them. Not to tell them they’re doing it wrong, just to re-educate and show them the proper way.”
With the changing weather, parents are concerned about their children getting cold while they are sleeping. When babies are a few months old, they begin to wiggle and shift in their sleep and blankets become a suffocation hazard. As an alternative, the educators showed parents the sleep sack, or wearable blanket.
Parents can zip up the baby in the wearable blanket, which is most commonly made of fleece, and it keeps the babies warm as they sleep through the night.
The safe sleep information should be shared with everyone who cares for the baby, the demonstrators said.
“If you have a neighbor you are close with, you might need to go over and say ‘Hey neighbor, I ran out of formula and need to run to the store, could you watch my baby?’ And they might not know how to properly put the baby to sleep,” said Smith. “Tell the babysitter, tell your neighbor, bring the whole family, have them watch the DVD.”
Daniel Genovese-Scullin, director of trauma Services at RUMC, had a table set up dedicated to children’s safety while in a car.
“Currently, it is state law to keep them in the rear-facing car seat until 2 years old,” Genovese-Scullin said, adding that often children can stay in the rear-facing seat until they are 3 or 4, depending upon their weight and the weight limit of the seat.
Rear-facing car seats are recommended for children from birth to age 2, forward-facing car seats are recommended for ages 2-7, booster seats for ages 5-12, and the back seat is recommended for ages 8-12.
The RUMC Trauma Department offers car seat checkups to ensure that children are in the proper seat and that the seat is properly installed. To attend a car seat checkup, click here.
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