First Lady Justice honors Infant Safe Sleep Month, continues campaign at W.Va. hospitals

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The goal of the Our Babies: Safe and Sound “Say YES to Safe Sleep” initiative is to continue to expand to every hospital in West Virginia, according to First Lady Cathy Justice.

Justice joined former First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin Wednesday at Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston and Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley to proclaim September as Infant Safe Sleep Month in West Virginia.

The month is dedicated to making sure parents are aware of infant safe sleep problems and solutions.

Former First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin (left) joined First Lady Cathy Justice during a Wednesday press conference.

The campaign was first championed by Tomblin in 2013. Justice said she felt compelled to continue supporting the initiative, especially because her and Governor Jim Justice are expecting their first grandchild from daughter, Jill, later this year.

“It’s something dear to my heart especially at this time in our life. We’re going to be new grandparents in December, so of course I have a great interest in that for my own self and the governor,” Justice said.

The program was introduced in six West Virginia hospitals. Since then, safe sleep practices have expanded to 23 hospitals statewide. Justice said her goal to implement the program in the remaining two hospitals in the state so that every parent in every West Virginia hospital has access to the education materials.

“We would love to expand it to every hospital in West Virginia,” she said. “It’s just a simple thing that everyone can do.”

According to the Our Babies: Safe and Sound campaign, one baby dies every 10 days in West Virginia as a result of unsafe sleep.

Becky King, who works for the campaign, said that’s because not enough new parents know the proper way to put their baby to sleep.

“Many times parents will say ‘oh, I did not realize that that’s what I should be doing to put my baby to sleep’, so our messaging is very positive. It focuses on what parents should do instead what not to do,” King said.

The initiative focuses on the “ABCs” of safe infant sleep. All babies should sleep:

  • A — ALONE but nearby.
  • B — On their BACK.
  • C — In a safe CRIB.

Heather Fauch, clinical coordinator for the nursery at Thomas hospital, said she provides reading material, a DVD, a children’s book and other information to new parents after their baby is born. She said the the rules of safe sleep are simple.

“It’s just a baby in a crib with a firm mattress with no extra blankets, toys, pacifiers, syringes, nothing other than the baby with a firm fitted sheet,” she said.

The following suggestions are listed in the Say YES to Safe Sleep brochure:

  • Baby always sleeps alone, on his/her back and in a crib.
  • Crib is clear of toys, heavy or loose blankets, bumper pads and pillows.
  • It’s safest for baby to sleep in the room where you sleep, but not in your bed.
  • Baby sleeps in a smoke-free room.
  • Mattress is firm and fits close to the sides.
  • Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

Unsafe sleep conditions continue to be the leading cause of death for West Virginia infants in the first year of their life, according to the campaign.

For more information about the Our Babies: Safe and Sound program, CLICK HERE.