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Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month highlights importance of babies sleeping alone


October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month, and Washoe County is reminding the public that unsafe sleep practices are the leading cause of death locally in otherwise healthy babies younger than one.

The Washoe County Human Services Agency, Washoe County Health District and the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office are collaborating throughout October to remind the community about the importance of safe sleeping practices.

Health officials ask that anyone caring for an infant remembers the ABCs of safe sleep: Put the infant to sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib.

The outreach consists of a billboard campaign, public service announcements on TV/social media, and notices on Regional Transportation Commission bus wraps.

“Infant unsafe sleep deaths are tragic and happen far too often in our community. We hope the variety of messages we publish over the next several months will remind the community how important it is to put your baby to sleep safely,” HSA Children’s Division Director Ryan Gustafson said in a statement.

“Most infant safe sleep deaths are avoidable,” he said. “Don’t co-sleep with your infant. Do not put baby to sleep with stuffed animals or on a bed and couch with pillows. Under the age of one, babies can easily suffocate because their neck muscles aren’t developed enough to move their head on their own if need be.”

There were 20 infant deaths in Washoe County from 2017 to 2021, all due to unsafe sleep situations, according to Washoe County.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.