Film Students Team Up with the Health Department to Promote Safe Sleep for Infants

By Lisa GreenMills, Program Coordinator, Syracuse Healthy Start
and Kara Verbanic, Public Health Educator

Finding out you’re pregnant can be life-changing news, and along with all the congratulations and well wishes from family and friends, new parents also get bombarded with plenty of unsolicited advice! It can range from helpful, to mildly amusing, to outright absurd! One thing we all hear though is “get used to not sleeping!” It really is hard to understand the exhaustion you’ll feel as a new parent until you actually experience it firsthand. Those first few weeks and months can be so difficult.

During those initial sleepless nights, friends and family might give you even more advice on getting your baby to sleep. You might hear that babies sleep better snuggled up with their parents, lying on their bellies, or surrounded by cute stuffed animals and blankets. Maybe back when you were a child, you even slept in bed with your parents. Times have changed though, and now that we know better, we can do better to protect our new baby. We now know that sleeping with an infant is very dangerous, and many babies have accidentally suffocated under pillows, blankets, between couch cushions, or their own parents’ bodies.

The fact is, every year right here in Onondaga County, infants are dying in unsafe sleep environments. It’s sad to even think about, but it’s important for every family to understand the risk factors and learn what they can do to help keep their babies safe. That’s why staff at the Onondaga County Health Department’s Healthy Families Division recently partnered with a team of students from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University to develop a Public Service Announcement (PSA) urging new parents to practice the ABCs of Safe Sleep, and most of all, to stay strong when it comes to infant sleep! Even though it’s difficult, Safe Sleep is always the best option.

Check out the video the students created and take a minute to learn the ABCs of Safe Sleep:

  • Baby should sleep ALONE
  • Put Baby to sleep on their BACK
  • Put Baby to sleep in a CRIB.


Safe Sleep Tips:

  • Place your baby on his or her back every time your baby sleeps (including naps).
  • Use a crib with a firm mattress that fits tight, without any space between the mattress and the side of the crib.
  • Babies should never sleep on soft surfaces (such as adult beds, sofas, armchairs, or pillows). Not even for a nap.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Place your baby to sleep in the same room as you but not in the same bed, for at least the first 6 months, ideally for the first year.
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads. Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Do not overheat the baby or bundle the baby with lots of blankets. Instead, dress the baby in a wearable blanket sleeper at bedtime.
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy or after the baby is born. And, do not let anyone else smoke around your baby.
  • Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. Offer pacifiers to breastfed infants only after breastfeeding is firmly established.
  • Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • Remember to tell family, friends, and child care providers about infant safe sleep tips so that your baby sleeps safely every time.
  • Make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep when visiting or traveling.

Healthy Families, a program of the Onondaga County Health Department, offers services for infants, children, new moms, and dads. Free and confidential home visits are available at their home or another location that works for them. For more information, call 315.435.2000 or visit

Special thanks to the faculty and students of S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for the production of this video:
Robert Emerson, Adjunct Professor ─Television, Radio, and Film
Students: Jillian Mitchell, Christopher Sechler, Marisa Torelli-Pedevska, Emily Campbell, and Cameron Hill