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News Release    

August 17, 2010      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Keep Sleeping Babies Safer

Poughkeepsie… Tragedies can result from dangerous sleeping arrangements such as infants sleeping alone in unsafe surroundings and infants sleeping with parents. In Dutchess County, there have been three infant deaths in the past eight months resulting from unsafe sleeping conditions.  Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Commissioner of Social Services Robert Allers encourage parents and caregivers to take a few simple steps every time a baby is laid down to sleep to help keep babies safe.

“Infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping conditions are heartbreaking and preventable tragedies,” said County Executive Steinhaus.   “Our goal is to educate parents and caregivers about the risks so they can prevent these tragedies from occurring in their families.”

Co-sleeping can be risky.  If an adult or child rolls over on a baby, the baby can be hurt or even suffocated.  The danger is further increased if the parent or caregiver has been drinking, has been using drugs, is overweight, or sleeps on a couch.  Infants may suffocate if they become wedged between the cushions of a sofa, caught in the bed frame, or caught between the frame and the mattress or wall.   Infants can also get entrapped in bedding or smothered during the shifting that may occur during sleep.

Parents should consider placing the baby’s crib near the parent’s bed, making caregiving easier and breastfeeding more convenient. 

Babies are safest when sleeping:

  • on their backs
  • in safety-approved cribs
  • on a firm mattress
  • without any soft items (such as pillows, comforters, or stuffed toys)
  • with lightweight sleep clothing in a room that is a comfortable temperature for lightly dressed adults.

Unsafe sleeping conditions for babies:

  • on their tummies or sides
  • on a pillow, waterbed, air mattress, bean bag or any other soft surface
  • in a cushioned chair or recliner, or on a couch (a baby’s head can get trapped)
  • with a blanket (instead, use lightweight sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper)
  • with another baby or child
  • with an adult who:
    • is overly tired
    • is taking medication that can cause sleepiness
    • has been drinking alcohol or using drugs
    • is very overweight

Social Services Commissioner Robert Allers said: “Babies need to be kept safe when they are awake and when they are sleeping.    We encourage everyone to share this information with anyone who takes care of a baby.”

For more information about what parents and caregivers need to know to keep babies safe while sleeping, visit the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) website at


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Last Updated: 8/17/2010