TOLEDO, Ohio — Nothing is better than becoming a parent for the first time, or if it happens in your family a second or third time.

But for many families, it turns tragic in the first year.

Ohio ranks 41st out of 50 states in infant mortality and there's a big reason why: It's called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS.

"So if you think of any questions that you have and then we will make sure those get addressed at the end, okay?" That's one of the first questions Bethany Anteau had for people sitting in a room. 

You could say Bethany, a health educator for the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, is a teacher.

And her students are moms, dads, caregivers, and sometimes grandparents.

Their classroom isn't in some local school, but at the health department.

Safe kids class
Bethany Anteau teaches a safe sleep class at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Dept.

There's a very good reason why she's teaching this class.

In early October, Toledo Police reported something shocking; there were three baby deaths in just a four-day period.

TPD said unsafe sleeping conditions could be to blame, raising suspicion of SIDS.

The most important lesson here? 

"Always, always, always place baby on her back," Anteau told the class.

Putting your baby flat on their back at nighttime, and during all naps, is the only way to go.

"So a slogan we use over and over again is' safe sleep is hard, your baby is worth it.' A lot of parents are exhausted, babies are waking up many times in the middle of the night and it's hard to alwayspout them alone on their back in a crib," Anteau said.

But many parents just aren't getting the message.

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows only 44% of parents always place their babies on their backs.

Some parents still have their baby sleep in bed with them, which is only increasing the suffocation risk.

Boys die from SIDS more than girls and statistics show that black babies die more often than white babies.

These are all sobering numbers that make classes like these so important.

"So we want parents to understand that although SIDS is an unknown cause, we can reduce the risk," Anteau said.

The classes are 90 minutes long, with the opening video and classroom learning, and they're told they have to practice "back in crib" on every sleep and nap.

They also learn something that is just as important: Only the baby should be in the bassinet or crib so you don't increase the risk of suffocation. 

"That baby should be alone, nothing in the crib, no soft items, no blankets, toys, pillows," Anteau explained.

The students also have to fill out an exit slip, where they say or write down what they're taking away from the class.  

Health department leaders will also do follow up calls to make sure they are truly practicing what they learned.

If you or someone you know wants to sign up for the safe sleep class, call Bethany Anteau at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

More information on SIDS can be found here and here.

For more information on SIDS, click on these links.

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