October is Safe Sleep Month. Safe Sleep is a nationwide program designed to educate parents and other caregivers on the safest way for infants to sleep.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has been noted for some time. SIDS is the cause assigned to an infant death that cannot be explained after a thorough case investigation (scene investigation, autopsy, and review of the clinical history).

Less well known is Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, a term used to describe any sudden and unexpected death (explained or unexplained, including SIDS) that occurs during infancy. Upon investigation, SUIDs can be attributed to suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, infection, ingestions, metabolic diseases, arrhythmia-associated cardiac channelopathies and trauma (accidental or non-accidental).

Although there has been a major decrease in the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome since 1992 when the American Academy of Pediatrics released its first recommendations, a safe sleep environment, they now have expanded those recommendations.

Safe Sleep has its own set of ABC’s. A is for alone; sleeping alone in my own bed. B is for back; always place a baby on its back to sleep. C is for crib — make sure the crib has a firm mattress with a tight sheet and no toys or blankets. Go to SafeSleep.Ohio.gov to learn the expanded ABCs of infant safe sleep for baby. Some, but not all, of their recommendations follow:

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in the room where you sleep, but not in your bed.

Never place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows, cushions or any soft surfaces.

Dress your baby in sleep clothing, like a sleep sack, and do not use a blanket. Don’t cover baby's head with a blanket or over bundle in clothing and blankets.

Keep room temperatures in a range comfortable for a lightly clothed adult (68 to 72 degrees).

Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.

Breastfeeding is recommended to help reduce the risk of SIDS.

Place the crib in an area that is always smoke free.

Awake, supervised, tummy time is recommended to facilitate development.

Talk to anyone who cares for your baby to make sure they place your baby to sleep on his back every time.

Obtain regular prenatal care to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.

How long should your baby sleep on their back? Until they can roll from back to belly on their own. But remember to put your baby to sleep on their back for the first year. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to suffocate or choke.

One persistent myth is that a baby will develop a flat spot on the back of the head if they sleep in their back. Actually, flat spots on a baby’s head go away after the baby learns to sit up. To reduce flat spots developing provide supervised "tummy time" when your baby is awake and someone is watching.

Information about Ohio's Infant Safe Sleep Law can be found in the Ohio Revised Code Sections 3701.66 and 3701.67.

I would like to thank Cortney Ardrey of the Wayne County Health Department for her assistance in gathering information for this article.

Mrs. Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be reached at BeverlyVT@aol.com