Creating a safe sleep environment for a baby is as simple as ABC. Babies sleep safest when they are alone, on their backs, and in a crib.

Did you know?

  • Suffocation and strangulation in an adult bed is the leading cause of injury-related death for Florida infants under age 1.
  • Infant deaths due to unsafe sleep environments are completely preventable.

You can help keep your baby safe during sleep using the following tips:

  • Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times—naps and at night. Babies’ anatomy and gag reflex will prevent them from choking while sleeping on their backs. Babies who sleep on their sides or stomachs are at an increased risk of SIDS.
  • Place your baby to sleep in a safety-approved crib or bassinette. Cribs should have a firm, flat mattress covered only by a fitted sheet. Sleeping on soft surfaces can increase the risk of sleep-related death.
  • Keep your baby’s crib or bassinet in the same room where you sleep for the first year of life. Sharing a room with your baby is much safer than bed sharing and may decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. Do not smoke in the room where the baby sleeps.
  • Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads and toys out of your baby’s sleep area. Additionally, do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Dress your baby in no more than one layer more than you would wear. If you are concerned your baby will get cold, use a wearable blanket.
  • Offer a pacifier. Pacifier use has been linked to a decreased risk of SIDS. For breastfed infants, delay pacifier introduction until 1 month of age to ensure breastfeeding is firmly established.
  • Tell everyone who takes care of your baby how to keep him or her safe during sleep.

The Healthy Start Coalition’s Safe Sleep Initiatives

Crib Displays

The Healthy Start Coalition believes that just one infant death is one too many. It is one of the many goals of the coalition to educate all caregivers on what a proper safe sleep environment looks like and provide them with useful tools.

One way that the Healthy Start Coalition has been working to bring safe sleep education to the community is by setting up Safe Sleep displays in various organizations around our two counties for parents and caregivers to see. We have recently purchased another crib to add to our rotation.

If those who visit your facility would benefit from the safe sleep education this model provides and you would like to be a host for a few weeks or during a particular event, please contact us for more information!

Charlie’s Kids Foundation Safe Sleep Book Project

One of the larger initiatives that the Coalition implemented in Okaloosa and Walton Counties is an educational campaign that targets parents who deliver in local labor and deliver hospitals through the use of the Charlie’s Kids Foundation board book, “Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug.” The Charlie’s Kids Foundation was founded after Sam and Maura Hanke lost their son, Charlie, to SIDS. The Foundation’s goal is to reduce the SIDS mortality rate through education and awareness. The book “Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug” was created to teach parents and caregivers about the do’s and don’ts of safe sleep. Since books are often part of the bedtime routine, the board book serves as a safe sleep reminder to be used right before the child is placed in their sleep environment. For more information on the Charlie’s Kids Foundation, please visit

In 2018 the Healthy Start Coalition purchased 3,800 copies of the “Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug” book and distributed them to four local labor and delivery hospitals in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. The intent with the project is to give a copy of the book to all new parents and have Labor and Delivery Staff review the safe sleep education with them. Our hope is that parents will utilize the do’s and don’ts list printed on the back of the book and share the information with all other caregivers who may be watching their child. After receiving positive feedback from hospital staff and from new parents who completed a survey after receiving the book, the Okaloosa County Department of Health Purchased another 7,440 books in Spring of 2019 to continue the project.

Safe Sleep Swaddle Sacks

As of Fall 2020, we have had continued success and participation from three of our local Labor and Delivery Hospitals; Fort Walton Beach Medical Center’s Women’s and Children’s Center, North Okaloosa Medical Center’s Birthing Center, and Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast’s Family Birth Place. We are grateful for our partnership with these hospitals. Through their hard work and dedication to this project we have reached over 2,000 families who had a new baby. In November of 2020, the Healthy Start Coalition of Okaloosa and Walton Counties honored the three participating hospitals with an award recognizing their hard work and commitment to this project.

The Healthy Start Coalition also invested in swaddle sacks used to swaddle newborns while sleeping. Printed on the sleep sacks are the “ABC’s if Safe Sleep.” These sleep sacks will be given to Healthy Start clients when they receive their Pack n’ Play as another way to educate parents on how to achieve a safe sleep environment, as well as pregnant women at community events and health fairs.