Two accidental infant deaths in Northland prompt sleep safety campaign

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two accidental infant deaths in the Northland in September have police urging parents to learn about safe sleep practices for babies.

Families donate bedding, specifically designed for infants, at Sleepyhead Beds to help those in need. Police are partnering with Children's Mercy Hospital to hand out educational pamphlets when officers meet newborn parents.

According to the hospital's child safety and injury prevention center, there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among babies every year in the United States.

That's why crib mattresses, bassinets and pack-n-plays are in short supply at charities like Sleepyhead Beds.

Police say too often parents who don't have a separate sleep area for their babies end up falling asleep with them in the same bed, and that can result in tragedy.

"A lot of the concerns we have with that is parents rolling over onto the child during sleep or the child slipping between couch cushions and becomes entrapped in cushions," said Brad Winfrey, manager of the hospital's childhood safety center. "So keeping a child in their own sleep area is the safest place for a child to sleep from birth to one year old."

Winfrey says infants should have nothing in their crib or bassinet except a fitted sheet. The child should wear a onesie or sleep sack. No pillows, no blankets, no stuffed animals. Nothing that could potentially suffocate a baby.

In the two most recent infant deaths, police say both babies were under 6 months old. This campaign seeks to discourage bed sharing, and prevent pain that a parent will never forget.