Editor’s note: This article was submitted by the Menominee County Local Council of Michigan Children’s Trust Fund.

According to the Michigan Health Statistics housed at the Department of Health and Human Services, there were 720 infant deaths in Michigan in 2018. 34.3% of infants died due to conditions related to prematurity, 16.9% of infants died due to birth defects, 11.5% of infants died due to accidents and 7.1% of infants died due to accidental suffocation in bed.

September is designated as Safe Sleep Month in the State of Michigan. The Menominee County Great Start Collaborative with support from the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund is providing parents with education and resources to help keep young children safe and healthy through the Safe Sleep Project. The goal of this project is to reduce the number of infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environments.

The best way to prevent sleep-related infant deaths is to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines issued in 2011:

■ Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.

■ Always use a firm sleep surface — a crib, bassinet or portable play yard like a Pack n’ Play. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.

■ Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, bumper pads and stuffed toys.

■ Share a room, not a bed. Separate sleep areas such as cribs, bassinets and pack n’ plays can be placed in the same room where the parents sleep.

Pregnant women from Menominee County who are receiving prenatal services at OSF Women’s Center in Escanaba or choose to give birth at Aurora Medical Center-Bay Area in Marinette, Dickinson Memorial Hospital in Iron Mountain or Bellin Hospital in Green Bay will automatically receive a sleep sack and safe sleep information through this initiative. Mothers who are using a different location for their prenatal or childbirth experiences or are adopting a baby and live in Menominee County are still eligible to receive the resources. In addition to the sleep sacks, this program provides free Pack n’ Plays to families that need a safe place for their baby to sleep.

For more information, people may call the Menominee County ISD at 906-863-5665, ext. 1018.