DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Montgomery County leaders are sounding the alarm after a rise in infant deaths involving unsafe sleep practices and recalled infant loungers.

County leaders gathered Wednesday to spread the message of safe sleep practices. Last year, 11 babies died in Montgomery County due to unsafe sleeping environments. So far in 2023, eight babies have died. Two of those deaths involved the Boppy Newborn Lounger, which was recalled in 2021. Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the Montgomery County Coroner, said the loungers can cause babies to suffocate.

“Placing an infant to sleep in an inclined position, such as in the Boppy pillow, can cause the chin to drop in the chest position, which can restrict the ability to breathe,” Dr. Harshbarger explained.

If you have one of those loungers, you should stop using it immediately.

County leaders also urged parents and caregivers to understand the importance of the ABC’s of sleep. Babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib. Debbie Lieberman, the Montgomery County Commission President, said the crib should be empty.

“Now we know that those bumpers and blankets, and pillows and hammocks and nets, and all the stuffed animals that we often put in a baby’s bed, they don’t belong in their sleep space,” Lieberman said.

Unsafe sleep has been a factor in 79% of deaths in infants under the age of one over the last five years. Lieberman hopes spreading this message will get families to take safe sleep seriously.

“We need the support of all of our community to help save these precious lives. The moms, the grandparents, babysitters, even the siblings should learn the ABCs of sleep,” Lieberman said.

Parents should also avoid putting their infant in clothing that could suffocate them, like hoodies. Dr. Harshbarger said pets can also be a hazard.

To learn more about safe sleep practices, click here.