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safe sleep awareness month

More than 150 babies in Michigan die each year due to sleeping in an unsafe environment. That’s more than 150 families each year whose lives will be forever changed by the loss of a child.

September is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month and to recognize this important observance, Arbor Circle is reminding parents and caregivers of techniques that can help to substantially reduce the infant death rate in Michigan.

Arbor Circle coordinates the Ottawa County Stop Child Abuse and Neglect Council (SCAN). Together, the SCAN Council is working to prevent parents from going through this tragedy by conducting an awareness campaign, launching on Tuesday, August 7.

Members of the SCAN Council will be challenging community members, neighbors and friends to participate in sack races as a fun way to remind parents and caregivers the importance of safe sleep practices.

A sleep sack is the preferred sleepwear for an infant under the age of one and is recommended in place of covering the infant with a blanket. It is designed to keep the baby’s temperature comfortable for sleep, making blankets or quilts unnecessary. Other lifesaving steps parents and caregivers can take to protect their baby include:

  • Never put the baby to sleep with adults or other children.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Ensure that the crib does not contain any extra items, including pillows, crib bumpers and stuffed animals.
  • Place the baby to sleep on his or her back, not on the stomach or side.
  • Do not overheat the baby. Ensure the room is well-ventilated and kept at a comfortable temperature.

“I’ve been working with the SCAN Council for a long time, but this year the work became even more real to me when I became a new mom,” said Arbor Circle’s Community Youth Development Director Leigh Moerdyke. “Being a new mom is challenging and a little nerve wracking, but utilizing safe sleep practices give me a little more peace of mind each time I put my daughter down to sleep.”

The campaign will kick off on Tuesday, August 7 and will wrap up on Sunday, September 23 at Haddie’s Calling Every Child Wakes Up 5K.

The community is encouraged to support this work by participating in a sack race and challenging others, or by donating to the work of Arbor Circle and the SCAN Council.

To learn more about how you can help, please contact Leigh Moerdyke at