ST. PAUL, Minn. - This is Infant Safe Sleep Week in Minnesota and The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Human Services are encouraging parents to know the ABCs of safe sleep.

New data shows unsafe sleep environments account for nearly all unexpected infant deaths in Minnesota.

A state health department study of sudden unexpected infant deaths in 2015 found that 53 of the 54 deaths happened while infants slept in unsafe sleep environments.

The key takeaway for parents and other caregivers is to know the ABCs of safe sleep:

  • ALONE: Infants should always sleep or nap alone.
  • BACK: Always put a baby on their back to sleep or nap.
  • CRIB: Babies should always sleep or nap in their own safety-approved crib or play yard.

Experts also recommend that infants should always sleep without blankets or pillows because the risk of suffocation is higher when loose objects are in the crib with the infant. Instead of using blankets, parents should dress babies in pajamas or other clothing appropriate for the temperature, according to MDH.

State officials are also urging health care and licensed child care providers to become safe sleep certified. About 9 percent of new mothers reported that their health care providers did not talk to them about how to lay their babies down to sleep, according to 2012-2014 data from the Minnesota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth is the first hospital in Minnesota to receive a National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification.

The Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis to be lit in blue, light blue and pink Wednesday and Thursday to mark Safe Sleep Week in Minnesota, which runs Nov. 5-11.

As always, parents should talk with a doctor or nurse if they have questions or concerns about safe sleeping.