"(Unsafe sleeping) is really a preventable cause of death:" A sleep sack giveaway at Milwaukee County Zoo

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Plenty of families were at the Milwaukee County Zoo on Saturday, November 1st. Most were there to check out the animals, but others wanted to help curb a troubling trend.

November 1st was "Family Free Day" at the Milwaukee County Zoo. David and Kellie Van Rixel and their son, Jude, bundled up for the experience. Before they started their day taking in all the animals, they were educated on safe sleeping for their youngster.

"We took classes in advance which helped a lot to know things to look for, things to be aware of," David and Kellie Van Rixel said.

On Saturday afternoon, they got a refresher course with Dr. Jason Jarzembowski who offered some tough statistics. Across the state last year, 50 babies died as a result of unsafe sleeping environments. Twenty of those babies lived in Milwaukee.

"It's really a preventable cause of death. We tell new parents and guardians to emphasize the ABCs. The baby should be alone, they should be on their back, and they should be in a crib or a play pen," Dr. Jarzembowski said.

The message was shared with several parents and guardians at the Milwaukee County Zoo on Saturday. Parents were also given a sleep sack in exchange for bumper pads.

Bumper pads are unsafe and can lead to suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

"Babies are not as well adapted as we are. They don't have the same response to low oxygen or something covering their face and they can't always move. They don't have the strength or coordination," Dr. Jarzembowski said.

Dr. Jarzembowski recommends laying your child down in a sleep sack -- a wearable blanket that allows them a good night's rest and the parents some peace of mind.

"It's just a safer alternative to having a lot of blankets in a crib," Dr. Jarzembowski said.

If you missed Saturday's event and would like to know more about the Safe Sleeping Initiative or to get a sleep sack, visit the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's website.