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Experts explain 'ABC's' of safe sleeping environments for babies

Child protective services in Texas investigated an average of 158 deaths each year since 2016.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Unsafe sleeping is a silent killer. It happens to the most vulnerable, starting from newborn babies and up to their first year of life.

So far this year, 31 families in Texas have suffered this tragic loss of a young life.

And last year, the Texas Department of Family And Protective Services investigated 13 in our region. Experts say this loss can be prevented.

Child Protective Services said they have seen too many cases of children dying from unsafe sleeping environments. In many cases, they say the parents just didn't know.

"I don't think anybody put's their baby in an unsafe sleep environment," said Skylar Medina with Child Protective Services.

She's seen many cases where a baby has died because of how and where they're sleeping. In many of those cases, parents say the same thing.

"It was an accident, they didn't know. A lot of it is just lack of education," Medina said.

Her newest baby girl is just a few months old. The mother of two said investigating these deaths has changed her outlook on parenting.

"Now, with my work, seeing how it happens and educating myself, it's extremely important," Medina said.

"We see them every other month. We have to do an investigation on a child who has died from an unsafe sleep environment," Said Shari Pulliam with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

DFPS wants to educate parents or guardians on the ABC’s of safe sleep with the following explanations.

A: Alone

DFPS says babies should sleep alone meaning in their own bed without heavy blankets, bumper pads or toys but preferably in the same room as the parent(s).

B: Babies should sleep on their backs.

C: Babies should sleep in their own cool crib.

The crib should have a firm mattress and tight fitting bottom sheet. Keep the room cool, around 70 degrees, and dress your baby in light clothes.

Bonus letter S: Babies should be sleeping in a smoke-free environment.

"I know we all want to cuddle and swaddle out babies and keep them close to us, but you should do it while your baby is awake," Pulliam said.

Since 2016, in the state of Texas, the agency has investigated an average of 158 deaths each year. Already this fiscal year, there have been 31.

DFPS says they see the highest number of deaths related to unsafe sleeping environments from December through February due to colder weather and parents using heavy clothes and bigger blankets.

What about co-sleeping?

Medina said it's something you should avoid.

"It's fine you want the cuddles, but at the end of the day if something were to happen to your child, you could never forgive yourself," Medina said.

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