Columbia St. Mary's hosts luncheon to kick off Safe Sleep Sabbath

MILWAUKEE -- Co-sleeping has been a big problem in the city of Milwaukee, resulting in preventable infant deaths, and officials are urging parents to create safe sleep environments for their infants. On Wednesday, September 12th Columbia St. Mary's, Mayor Tom Barrett, the Milwaukee Health Department and area churches gathered for a luncheon to kick off their second annual "Safe Sleep Sabbath."

Safe Sleep Sabbath is a program that promotes infant safe sleep practices.  Milwaukee health officials say there are growing concerns of the dangers of co-sleeping and they want to educate parents about a safe sleeping environment.

The second annual event comes just one day after another infant death occurred in the City of Milwaukee. On Tuesday, September 11th an infant boy who was one-day shy of being two months old was found unresponsive while sleeping in a full-size mattress with his mother. That boy is identified as Traven Williams Jr.

The family acknowledges the baby was sleeping with his mother, but say that did not lead to the child's death. The Medical Examiner's report seems to agree with the family at this point.

The investigation report released on Wednesday, September 12th says "there's no evidence of external trauma to the body" of Traven Williams Jr. The report also says there have not been any recent illnesses reported by family members. The cause of death is pending further testing.

Family members of the child say Traven was laying on the bed next to his mother when she sensed something was wrong. “When she looked at him, he wasn’t breathing. She woke me up. I was sleeping on the floor,” the child’s father, Traven Williams said.

Williams immediately called 911 for help.

“They told me to put him up on the floor, hold his neck up and put my two index fingers up on him and that’s what I did,” Williams said. But it was too late. The child was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m. Williams contends the child’s mother never even fell asleep — so it couldn’t be co-sleeping.

“She ain’t roll over. She was woke with him the whole time,” Williams said.

Health officials argue a baby’s surroundings while sleeping can be just as dangerous as a co-sleeper.

“It’s really about the basics. Always alone, in a pack and play, on their back,” Jessica Gathirimu from the Milwaukee Health Department said.

Health officials advise parents to keep infants in a crib, removing pillows, blankets and keeping them away from second-hand smoke.

"We want to make sure there are not extra pillows, bumper pads, blankets or anyone sleeping with the infant. Those are really, really the messages we want to hit home," Gathirimu said.

The Safe Sleep Sabbath will be held Sunday, September 16th at area churches.

CLICK HERE for additional Safe Sleeping tips via the City of Milwaukee’s website.

CLICK HERE for questions/answers regarding the Milwaukee Health Department’s “Safe Sleep Summit.”

CLICK HERE to visit the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s “infant mortality” info. page.

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