It's Safe Sleep Awareness Month and first responders want to remind new parents that there are things you can do to help give your baby the safest sleep possible.

From 1999 to 2015 the suffocation rate climbed from 12 to 28 fatalities for every thousand infants in the country.  A lot of these deaths can be prevented simply by not letting infants sleep in the bed.

"We might not always hear about it, but we still have this issue continuously going," said Francisco Ceballos, Community and Programs Coordinator for REMSA. "Most of the time it's with parents being in bed with their child, sharing it with them and accidentally suffocating them."  

The safest place for infants under a year old is in a crib that is free of pillows, blankets and toys.

"Those are going to be a hindrance to the child," Ceballos said.  "Say they get in a compromised situation -  the blanket may be heavy, they might have an abnormality, something may happen where they can't get themselves up and they end up suffocating."

REMSA recommends babies sleep in wearable blankets called sleep sacks and that they always be placed on their backs, alone, in their cribs whenever they go to sleep.  

"Earlier, doctors recommended putting them on their sides but over time they've found infants can roll onto their stomach and end up suffocating that way; it's always the safest to put them on their back," Ceballos said.  "Parents are scared, they think, 'what if they start regurgitating,' but if you think of gravity, vomit is going to go to the lowest center of gravity and that is the stomach when they are on their backs.  If the child is on their stomach and regurgitates, the lowest point is the lungs so there's a higher chance of aspirating."

There's a program to help ensure every child that needs a safe crib to sleep in can get one.

"We have a program through the state called Cribs for Kids and if the parent does not have a safe place for their kids we offer them the pack and play crib," Ceballos said.  "We go through some education and ask them demographic information and it's free to them."

The hope is to educate as many new parents as possible and help spread that knowledge to other generations.

"Anyone that takes care of an infant, we want to make sure they're doing the exact same thing," Ceballos said.  "So if Mom and Dad are placing baby on their back in the crib, alone and free of clutter, we want to make sure they're passing that on because older generations were taught it's okay for a baby to sleep on their side, with blankets and pillows, and now through studies we've found that's really unsafe." 

For more information on the Cribs for Kids program contact Francisco Ceballos at (775) 353-0727.