News Releases

Monroe County Sees a Safer Year for Babies

new-years-eve-baby2016 was a safer year for infants in Monroe County with the news that the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating just three fatalities of infants occurring in unsafe sleep environments during 2016. Final rulings and statistics will not be released until September 2017.

The information was shared by Sue VanStrydonck, Co-Chair of the Baby Safe Sleep Coalition, at its annual end-of-the-year breakfast on Dec. 15, 2016.

“Three is still too many, although that number is certainly less than last year’s nine and our yearly average of 10,” she added. “We are grateful for the apparent decline in these preventable deaths, and encouraged that our efforts and joint programs with area hospitals, health professionals and agencies appear to be gaining ground.”

Baby Safe Sleep Coalition’s goal is eliminating preventable infant fatalities caused by unsafe sleep environments in Monroe County. Primarily a volunteer-run organization, it works to improve knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the risk of unsafe sleep environments in hopes of changing social norms and parent and caretaker behavior.

VanStrydonck and Co-Chair Joanne Cordaro, MD, shared Coalition successes in 2016 that included:

  • supplying safe sleep brochures (printed courtesy of Xerox Corporation) to the Monroe County Department of Public Health to include in the mailing of 9,962 birth certificates in 2015, and the distribution of safe sleep take-home kits to the parents of 10,718 babies born in local hospitals over the past 18 months;
  • supporting the efforts of Rochester Regional Health System/Rochester General Hospital in becoming the second hospital in our community to achieve the highest level recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program — Gold Safe Sleep Champion;
  • raising $3,000 and distributing 15 Pack N Plays (cribs) through the Coalition’s Safe Crib Project, and expanding relationships with URMC and RRHS outpatient social workers to assist in identifying needs, delivering resources and offering direct safe sleep education to patients;
  • joining others in New York in supporting an ultimately unsuccessful legislative ban on the sale of crib bumpers in the state, generating over 200 letters to Senate and Assembly representatives;
  • launching the first steps of a strategic planning process to ensure the future and ongoing mission of Baby Safe Sleep by conducting interviews with three local agencies, and
  • collaborating with the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong/Pediatric Sleep Medicine Services to develop a tip sheet for parents and caregivers called “Teach Your Baby To Be A Good Sleeper,” aimed at reducing instances where adults and babies co-sleep.

2017 goals include strengthening connections with local daycares and oversight agencies to ensure that current safe sleep practices are taught and enforced and continuing to pursue a state-wide ban on the sale of crib bumpers in New York State.

“Every year, we rely on the dedication and efforts of our Coalition members in educating the community on the vital importance of following safe sleep recommendations. We rely on their community connections, expertise and willingness to share their time to spread the word about safe sleep for infants,” VanStrydonck added.

American Academy of Pediatrics Expands Safe Sleep Reccomendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics has expanded its safe sleep recommendations to answer common questions. More information can be found here.

In addition to offering explanations about how soft surfaces and materials can interfere with a baby’s breathing, there are new safety recommendations for co-sleepers, and details about the importance of health professionals sharing this information throughout pregnancy, birth and the baby’s follow-up visits.

Take a look at AAP’s recently added video.


Glover Crask Pledges $5,500 to Match Donations

Thanks to a $5,500 matching donation pledged by the Glover Crask Charitable Trust, we raised $14,300 at the 2016 Baby Safe Sleep Rocks April 17th event – the highest amount ever!

This money is critically important to continuing our program of supplying take-home kits to local hospitals. The kits reinforce the safe sleep education parents receive at the hospital before they return home with their newborn.

We are so thankful to Glover Crask for its generous donation; to many other individuals, companies and organizations that donated wonderful raffle items, and to our volunteers and attendees who helped make this event such a great success!


Update on Crib Bumper Ban 2016 Session

We want to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to let our NYS legislators know that we support a ban on the sale of crib bumpers and their use in daycare facilities. While the Assembly came through and overwhelmingly voted for the bill, the Senate version did not make it to a vote before the session ended.

However, we are very hopeful it will be introduced again in the 2017 session, and we will be calling on you again to let legislators know that a crib bumper ban will save babies’ lives!

Thank you for taking the time to send letters and emails – you’re amazing!

You’re Invited to Baby Safe Sleep Rocks 2017!

Baby Rocks


Join us for great music, a delicious pasta dinner and amazing raffle prizes at the 2016 Baby Safe Sleep Rocks fundraising event on Sunday, April 30, 2017, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Penfield Country Club, 1784 Jackson Rd., Penfield. Tickets are $30 in advance ($35 at the door) per person; children 5-10, $10, and children under 5, free. The pasta dinner will be served at 5 p.m.

Raffle items include gift cards to restaurants, stores & attractions; toys for children of all ages; tickets to events, movies, plays or concerts; sports equipment, household items, and electronics.

Proceeds from this fun annual event support our efforts to eliminate infant deaths in Monroe County due to unsafe sleep practices.

Donation items are welcome! To donate items, please contact Christine Doyle, Baby Safe Sleep Coalition coordinator, at (585) 461-0115, ext. 249 or by emailing

You can purchase tickets online at Eventbrite or call (585) 461-0110, x 249 for more options.

BSS Celebrates 2015 Accomplishments

The Baby Safe Sleep Coalition finished out 2015 with some significant accomplishments and a generous donation that will enable us to continue our successful Enhanced Safe Sleep Education collaboration with area hospitals in 2016.

At our end-of-the-year celebration on December 17, Co-Chair Sue VanStydonck announced that the Glover Crask Charitable Trust had made a $15,000 donation to continue a project with UR/Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, UR/Highland, Rochester General and Unity Hospitals that provides safe sleep instruction to the parents of every baby born annually in Monroe County. Parents also receive a take-home safe sleep kit that they can share with family members and caregivers to ensure that everyone who cares for their baby knows about safe sleep.

“We are so grateful to John Harris and Glover Crask Charitable Trust for their support of this life-saving program,” VanStrydonck said. “As a small organization operated primarily by volunteers, we could not continue distribution of the take-home kits without this gift from Glover Crask!”

The December breakfast also provided an opportunity to acknowledge several important accomplishments in 2015, including:

  • Continued distribution of our safe sleep brochures, printed courtesy of Xerox Corporation, with all birth certificates mailed out annually by the Monroe County Department of Public Health. 10,566 birth certificates were mailed in 2015.
  • Completion of 2 successful pilot programs at Rochester General and Unity hospitals that provided enhanced safe sleep education and 2,800 take-home kits with sleep sacks to parents of newborns, which led to the establishment of the enhanced safe sleep education program with all local hospitals and distribution of an additional 1,850 safe sleep kits in 2015.
  • Our support of the efforts of UR/Golisano Children’s Hospital, through our affiliation with the National Cribs for Kids program, to become the first and only hospital in New York State to achieve the highest level recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program, Gold Safe Sleep Champions.
  • Our success in raising nearly $30,000 from events including Baby Safe Sleep Rocks, the BSS Stroll and Roc the Day; and donations from the Genesee Brewhouse Pilot Brewery, Chico’s at Pittsford Plaza, and many private donors.
  • Outreach efforts that shared safe sleep education and Monroe County Department of Public Health statistics at a variety of community events and with local pediatricians, hospitals and agencies that work with infants and families.
  • The work of our Safe Crib Project committee in raising $4,500 used to purchase 50 Pack N Play portable cribs, 100 crib sheets with the safe sleep message from Cribs for Kids, and 50 sleep sacks for distribution to families in need.
  • Expansion of our safe sleep continuum of care in Monroe County to include presentations and safe sleep kit distribution at OB/GYN practices and centering sites such as Healthy Baby Network’s Healthy Start programs at Rochester General Hospital, Clinton Family Health Center and Anthony Jordan Health Center.

Safe Sleep Kits at All Monroe County Hospitals

The Baby Safe Sleep Coalition is now providing safe sleep educational materials to the parents of approximately 10,500 infants born annually in Monroe County hospitals.

Safe Sleep Kits provided by the Coalition were introduced at  Rochester General Hospital in August 2014 and at Unity Hospital in January 2015 The Coalition received grants from the Genesee Valley Medical Society, the Polisseni Foundation and the Greater Rochester Health Foundation to provide 1,995 take-home safe sleep kits to RGH and 800 kits to Unity Hospital.

Following positive feedback from hospital staff and parents, the program has been expanded to include URMC Strong Hospital, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Highland Hospital.

The kits reinforce safe sleep information shared by hospital staff and are designed to be taken home by parents to share with family members and others who help take care of the new baby.

The kit includes a brochure and door hanger with the safe sleep message; a baby board book, Sleep Baby Safe and Snug that beautifully and simply illustrates the recommended safe sleep environment, and FAQs about safe sleep. A wearable blanket (sleep sack) recommended as an alternative to using blankets or other bedding in the baby’s crib is being provided at several participating hospitals.

Golisano Children’s Hospital and Strong Memorial Hospitals recently were recognized as the first in New York State to be named “Gold Safe Sleep Champions” by the Crib for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program in conjunction with their commitment to the enhanced safe sleep education project. Highland Hospital secured grant funding this month to purchase sleep sacks for distribution with the Coalition kits to their parents of newborns.

“We commend these hospitals for putting safe sleep education directly into the hands of every new parent as part of a community effort to eliminate sleep environment risks that have already claimed the lives of 75 healthy infants between 2007 and 2014,” said Susanne VanStrydonck, co-chair of the Baby Safe Sleep Coalition.

“The Coalition has collaborated with area pediatricians and agencies that work with children and families to communicate the safe sleep message. Recently, we launched a similar educational program with OB practices. Now, with the addition of these hospitals, our message is reinforced at exactly the right moment to ensure that parents know the risks of an unsafe sleep environment and how to make sure that their new baby sleeps safely.”

Baby Safe Sleep Kit

Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued some helpful information on infant sleep patterns. Understanding how and why your baby sleeps (or doesn’t!) can ensure a better night’s rest for everyone.

The healthy baby’s sleep and waking patterns often prove problematic to parents, and when a child doesn’t sleep as expected, the parent-child relationship can start off on the wrong foot.

Sleep patterns – and problems – differ as the child ages. As the newborn brain slowly matures, the infant acquires the ability to cope with the stimulus load of the waking world. In early infancy, a child is sleeping 16-18 hours a day, and may prefer to be wakeful during the peaceful night rather than the hectic daytime hours. If parents understand this, they won’t blame themselves or be fearful for the child, and may not make the mistake of trying to stimulate the baby into daytime wakefulness.

By two months, many children are staying awake well enough but have very difficult transitions to sleep. Mothers and fathers often encounter two or more hours of crying and irritability in the early evenings as
they try unsuccessfully to rock, walk, or sing their babies to sleep. At this age, they can be reminded that these babies are already overstimulated, and that a brief period of under stimulation (swaddling, quiet, dark room) may allow the child to settle to sleep after a little fussing.

Babies (like all humans) wake regularly through the night and often drift back into a deep sleep. The almost universal assumption that babies wake because they’re hungry may result in parents “training” the child to expect a feeding. Experienced parents often wait a few minutes before responding to a child who is quietly fussing, and find that they will settle themselves. If the baby does begin to cry in the night, once they have begun to sleep through the night, parents should resist feeding them. If they are fed in an effort to quiet their crying, chances are they will soon come to expect this response whenever they wake up in the night,

Parents may also face various challenges and stressors related to sleep starting around 4 months when separation anxiety usually starts. Sleep behaviors associated with separation anxiety include a new reluctance to go to sleep and resurgence in night waking. If these sleep behaviors are not positively addressed by the time the child is 7-8 months, they will continue to insist on the behaviors that cause stress because it is now habit to them. Bedtime routines, rituals, consistency and reassurances from parents can help the child settle down and become sleepy.

aa mom with baby in crib  safely