WEST PALM BEACH —Local pediatricians and community organizations have joined the Florida Department of Children and Families in sending a message to families throughout Florida: Babies sleep safest when they are alone, on their backs, in an uncluttered crib.
“What better way can a mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or other caregiver show love for a child than to provide a safe environment for that child?” said Dennis Miles, interim Southeast Region managing director for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
During a Feb. 14 news conference at DCF’s administrative offices in downtown West Palm Beach, DCF, the Clinics Can Help Foundation, the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Child and Family Connections, the Palm Beach County Health Department and local hospitals and pediatricians promoted a safe sleep message during a celebration of the CRIBS Project.
The CRIBS — Cribs ‘R’ for Infant/Baby Safety — Project was formed in response to a series of deaths and injuries due to infants and others sharing beds. It enables parents who cannot afford to purchase a crib, and who are referred by a DCF child protective investigator, to attend a safe sleep education course and receive a free portable crib, a GRACO Pack ’n Play.
Siedah Brown of West Palm Beach and her son Brian, a day shy of 3 months old, received the 100th portable crib provided by The CRIBS Project. Jermar Roberson of Lake Worth and his nearly 2-month-old daughter, Jermaria, also attended the celebration and completed a Safe Sleep Education Course. Flor Estubiñan of Greenacres returned for the celebration with her 3-month-old daughter, Linda Maria, after receiving a portable crib through The CRIBS Project last year.
Local pediatricians Dr. Ivy Faske, Dr. Ron Romear, Dr. Amy Aqua and Dr. Melissa McNally emphasized the importance of babies sleeping alone – without adults or siblings, on their backs, in a crib without stuffed animals, fluffy pillows and blankets.
The pediatricians acknowledged that professional advice, based on research and tragedies, has changed since many grandparents had babies. Since January 2010, 19 babies in Palm Beach County have died after being placed in unsafe sleep environments. That includes three newborns this year alone.
Donations for The CRIBS Project can be made to the Clinics Can Help Foundation, 1550 Latham Road, Unit #10, West Palm Beach, FL 33409.
Pediatricians and organizations who wish to broadcast an 11-minute safe-sleep video and/or a 30-second public service announcement in English and Spanish about safe sleep can receive a DVD sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse Florida, The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, the State of Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Children and Families.
SAVING ONE BABY
Elsewhere in South Florida, Broward County’s wide-reaching cribs program has strong sponsorships and connections to hospitals and pediatricians.
The Cribs for Kids (CFK) program of the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward, Inc. was the first CFK chapter in Florida, and has given hundreds of Graco Pack N’ Play cribs each year for infants whose families are unable to afford them.
The coalition considers that too many infant deaths are caused by unsafe sleeping environments, and if the provision of these cribs prevents even one infant death, the program is successful. Mothers and other caregivers also are provided with education on sudden infant death syndrome, shaken baby syndrome and other vital sleep-related information.
To receive a DVD contact Elisa Cramer, DCF community development administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-837-5686. For more information and/or to apply for the Cribs for Kids, contact Tasha S. Sledge, program manager, at email@example.com or 954-765-0550 ext. 326.
Photo: BY GREGORY REED
SAFER BABY SLEEP: Siedah Brown of West Palm Beach, who received the 100th portable crib provided by The CRIBS Project, with her son Brian and Brian’s grandmother. Florida Department of Children and Families officials stressed the importance of safe sleep practices, and the risks of bed-sharing with very young babies, during a Feb. 14 news conference.