Safe sleep: Simple precautions can protect the life of an infant

My wife Jennifer and I have become involved in a cause we didn’t know existed six months ago.

The Hickmans

It is an under-publicized crisis attacking the most precious and vulnerable among us, our babies.

It’s made horrifyingly worse when you learn some of the very practices we thought as loving and thoughtful are, in fact, dangerous and potentially deadly.

  • Like decorating the crib with toys, pillows, and extra bedding for the baby to cuddle.
  • Or bringing a crying infant into a parent’s bed to soothe.

Yes, that shocked us, too. But more infants die in crib-related deaths than in swimming pools. Just in Arizona, 65 babies less than one-year old died in 2013 in unsafe sleeping accidents, 34 from bed-sharing with adults or other children. Another 28 died while sleeping on their sides or stomachs and five more while sleeping on a couch or futon.

Our three children are all healthy. But we shudder how much of the information about safe sleep we didn’t know. Or how much we thought we knew that was wrong.

We now know that babies should sleep alone in a crib, bassinet or playpen, placed on their backs without extra bedding or toys. No pillows, blankets, comforters, or stuffed toys.

We want to share this information to all new parents, indeed all parents with infants or those expecting.  You can learn more by visiting

We are grateful to outstanding people like Cara Christ, director of the state Department of Health Services; Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and the dedicated men and women at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for bringing this to our attention and for working so hard to prevent these tragedies.

Clint and Jennifer Hickman are Goodyear residents and parents of three children, including Marcela, 5, pictured here. Clint is a Maricopa County Supervisor from District 4.


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