A Better West Virginia... Where every baby is safe and sound.

Sunday is West Virginia's 147th birthday, and once again West Virginia's online community is coming together to share ideas and opportunities to build a better West Virginia.  In recent years, Jason Keeling has done a great job of pulling together bloggers from across the mountain state to offer ways to build new stereotypes for WV and contribute strategies to strengthen our state.

For example, last year Skip Lineberg suggested we begin building towards a fitter West Virginia by supporting one another in making healthier choices and getting physically fit by including the hashtag #FitWV on Tweets when people exercise or make good choices.

Being part of the #FitWV tribe has been a great encouragement to me as I've tried to be healthier and lose weight during the past year.  It's been great to have support, and I'm proud to say I've lost 55 pounds since last August -- currently 189 lbs down from 244 lbs!

For my contribution to this year's a better West Virginia challenge, I'd like to invite people from across the state to join in our latest initiative at Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia entitled, Our Babies: Safe & Sound.

The campaign is a statewide effort to address two of the leading causes of death for infants in West Virginia - unsafe sleep and abusive head trauma (shaken baby syndrome). Tragically, 3 to 4 babies die every month in West Virginia due to accidental suffocation -- often while co-sleeping with an adult or smothering in an adult bed or sleeping on a couch or recliner.

Infants are 40 times more like to die sleeping on an adult bed or other furniture than in their crib. These are preventable deaths.

Using guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Our Babies: Safe & Sound includes three levels of activity or "inoculations" to prevent these deaths:
  1. Education of parents and other caregivers, particularly those caring for infants and babies from birth to age 1, 
  2. Reinforcement in the community (community organizations, local agencies, networks and collaborations), 
  3. Statewide paid and earned media strategies.
My hope is that West Virginia's online community will join in the Our Babies: Safe & Sound campaign by sharing our campaign's message to "Say YES to Safe Sleep".

How You Can Help Others Say YES to Safe Sleep
  • Talk about safe sleep practices with everyone who takes care of your baby: teenagers, grandparents, babysitters, child care staff, friends and other family members. 
  • Help us spread the word by sharing Say YES To Safe Sleep tips. Visit SafeSoundBabies.com and forward it on to other parents, caregivers, and friends.  If you are a provider of services to families, sign up to be a Community Partner for the campaign and share our campaign materials in your community.
  • Set a good example to other new parents and caregivers.  We know the safest ways for babies to sleep: on their back, alone - not on adult beds or furniture -and in a safe crib.
  • Take action if you see unsafe infant sleeping positions or unsafe crib displays in the media, or when you shop.  Talk to the store manager, or write a letter to the editor of the magazine or newspaper. 
How you can Keep Your Cool when Babies Cry
In addition to safe sleep, we are encouraging parents and caregivers to Keep Your Cool when babies cry. Inconsolable crying is often a trigger for a parent or caregiver to lose control and shake their baby. This is very, very dangerous and can cause serious injury, brain damage and even death.

As our PSA describes, all babies cry, so it's important to have a plan for what to do when they do. Most important is keeping your cool.

When a baby won't stop crying, and you are getting upset, if you need to take a break, that's OK.

After you've checked the baby's diaper, you know they're not hungry, not hurt or sick -- if you feel like you're about to lose control, it's OK to lay a baby down on their back in a safe crib and step away for a few minutes.

We want everyone to have a plan for how they will keep their cool when babies cry. Maybe it's talking to a friend, listening to music, doing a few quick exercises (#FitWV!), whatever it is to chill for a few minutes, and then you go back and help soothe your baby.

As part of the #abetterWVNetwork challenge, I hope you will help us spread the word about Our Babies: Safe & Sound throughout West Virginia.  You can embed these videos on your own site, and we would love to have links to our campaign website at http://www.safesoundbabies.com.  After you sign up as a community partner, you can also order free posters, brochures and other campaign materials online to share in your community.  

Working together, we can build a better West Virginia where every baby is safe and sound! THANKS!


This an excellent campaign, I had not yet seen the video message, it is very well done. An exhausted parent or caregiver is usually at the end of a frayed rope, and the message of "walk away" (after checking on the baby's needs) is powerful and important.