Safe SleepOct. 18, 2016 -- County Executive Robert P. Astorino today introduced a public awareness campaign aimed at preventing infant deaths attributed to unsafe sleep environments by promoting the “ABCs of Safe Sleep” throughout Westchester. The ABCs of Safe Sleep, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and others, are a reminder that the safest way for babies to sleep is Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib.

“Any preventable infant death is one too many,” Astorino said. “That’s why it’s critical to remember your baby should sleep alone, on his or her back, and in a crib – every time. Every parent, family member and caregiver needs to know the safe way to put babies to sleep. We’re talking about saving lives.”

Joining Astorino were representatives from the county’s departments of Social Services and Health, the District Attorney’s Office, the medical community, parents and nonprofit partners.

The bilingual campaign will include a video, county bus shelter and interior bus ads, posters and flyers that illustrate the ABCs of Safe Sleep in both English and Spanish.

Westchester County will promote the campaign through its various programs and offices, in addition to its email newsletter, website and social media platforms. The video will also be available to show in county offices and health clinics.

In addition, nonprofit partners will help distribute the information to more than 750 childcare providers and more than 3,000 parents through the Child Care Council of Westchester, as well as through the Westchester County Diaper Bank in partnership with the Junior League of Central Westchester. All materials are available to medical practices and community groups to share more broadly, as well.

“The District Attorney’s Office is always horrified when faced with the death of an infant, but even more so when it is discovered that such a tragedy could have been avoided with proper education and awareness,” said Acting District Attorney James A. McCarty. “This information addressing a safe sleeping environment will go a long way towards reducing the number of sleep-related infant deaths that our office encounters.”

For more information, contact DSS Deputy Commissioner John Befus at to learn more about becoming a partner.

“Through my work as a member of the county’s Child Fatality Review Team, I have evaluated far too many infant deaths, and the most common thread among them was an unsafe sleep environment that included pillows or stuffed animals, soft bedding or bed-sharing,” said Jennifer Canter, MD, Director, Child Abuse Pediatrics Program at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, who is featured in the video. “I hope this campaign reminds parents to always practice Safe Sleep and to make sure everyone who cares for their baby does so, too.”

About 90 infants die each year in New York from sleep related causes, according to the New York State Department of Health. Locally, the Westchester County Child Fatality Review Team reviewed nearly 80 child fatalities over the past 10 years. Since 2008, 38 percent of the cases had identified an unsafe sleeping environment. This figure climbs to 60 percent for child fatalities under the age of one. While that doesn’t mean unsafe sleep was necessarily determined to be the cause, it nevertheless was present and of concern to investigators – highlighting the need for a public education campaign.

“Losing a child is absolutely devastating,” said DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire. “But the worst thing is when the death could have been prevented. It’s critically important that all parents know the ABCs of Safe Sleep, and that they share these practices with anyone caring for their child.”

In July, New York State passed a law requiring that maternity patients receive safe sleep information that includes recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, by either providing a leaflet or showing a video, both of which are available through the state Department of Health.

Westchester’s campaign aims to reinforce the importance of the ABCs of Safe Sleep after parents leave the hospital, so that the message is always top of mind and gets shared with any other family members or caregivers who also may care for the child.

“New parents will learn the ABCs of Safe Sleep at local hospitals, but this message is so important that we want to share these safe sleep practices with all potential caregivers,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health.

Photo Caption: County Executive Robert P. Astorino, right, introduced a live demonstration of the “ABCs of Safe Sleep” as given by Jennifer Canter, MD, Director, Child Abuse Pediatrics Program at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. They were joined by new parents Oscar and Bruny Bravo with their son, Daniel, eight months old.

The ABCs of Safe Sleep
Talk to all caregivers about the ABCs of Safe Sleep to keep your baby safe and reduce the risk of SIDS as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Use #SafeSleep to share on social media.


  • Babies should always sleep alone in a crib
  • Never with adults, no siblings or pets in the crib
  • No blankets, pillows, bumpers or toys
  • Dress baby in one more layer of clothing than you


  • Always place baby on his or her back
  • No sleeping on tummy or sides
  • Tummy time is for supervised play time
  • No pillows or wedges in crib


  • Baby should sleep in a safe and separate crib or bassinet
  • Use tightly fitted sheets with no blankets
  • Never allow baby to sleep on a couch
  • No futons, chairs or waterbeds