Wichita police partner with KIDS Network to promote safe sleep during pandemic

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Wichita police are partnering with the Kansas Infant Death and SIDS (KIDS) Network to raise awareness of safe sleep practices for babies during the coronavirus pandemic.

WPD is investigating two infant deaths this week. The investigation into the cause is ongoing. Police say they work many of these cases throughout the year, and some are a result of co-sleeping.

With the current pandemic causing many people to stay home, police worry they might see an increase in sleep-related infant deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Kansas sits above the national average for SIDS cases. Christy Schunn – Executive Director of the KIDS Network – wants to save babies’ lives.

“Right now, our whole world is so preoccupied with this crisis. We're in a state of emergency, so I think folks aren't concentrating on some of the things they need to be doing at home,” said Schunn.

She said the coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of anxiety and frustration.

“We have people that are napping maybe more frequently than they would usually be napping, and so they’re putting babies in unsafe sleep environments,” said Schunn.

Parents need to follow the ABC’s of safe sleep: babies should be ALONE, on their BACK, and in a clutter-free CRIB.

“Make sure that the baby sleeping in the same room as the parents but not in the same bed,” said Schunn.

There should be nothing in the crib except the baby.

“They don't have the neck strength and the shoulder strength to lift their heads the way they need to do when they get into a compromised position, such as rolling into a blanket or a pillow or a stuffed animal or a human being. That becomes very very risky,” said Schunn.

She says tobacco exposure increases the risk of infant death.

Breastfeeding and sleeping with a pacifier reduce the risk.

Schunn has a YouTube channel, where she demonstrates how to set up a safe sleep environment.

Schunn said everyone is focused on coronavirus right now, but we can’t forget about protecting the health of our families in other ways.

“A lot of what we do to reduce sleep related deaths is risk reduction or mitigating risk, which is exactly what we're doing with COVID-19: social distancing, physical distancing, washing our hands. Those sorts of things reduce that risk of infection. Sleep-related deaths are the same way," said Schunn.

Schunn also wants people to know the KIDS Network offers resources for grieving parents who lose a child. You can connect through the KIDS Network website.