Comcast Newsmakers: SCAN Shares Operation Safe Babies with the Community

We’re excited to share this new interview about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies program. It’s a great, simple way to share an overview of the program–and why it’s so important–with the parents and families in your community! SCAN’s Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard recently taped a segment on Comcast Newsmakers, sharing general guidelines when it comes to safe sleep for babies, as well as how SCAN is working with The Baby Box Company and Cribs for Kids to get parents in our region the education and resources they need to keep their babies safe:

Please share this video with your networks! And learn more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies Program here.


Baby Boxes: Questions & Answers As We Launch a New Program

This fall, SCAN of Northern Virginia is expanding its Operation Safe Babies program to include baby boxes and education through the Baby Box Co. and Baby Box University. We’ve explored the topic of baby boxes in the past, researched safe sleep and devoted much energy to our Operation Safe Babies program. And we know you have questions! Here we share some of the most common questions we’ve received so far. If you have others, please let us know.

1. You already distribute Pack-n-Plays through Operation Safe Babies. Why are you adding Baby Boxes to the mix?
Carl Ayers, Director of the Division of Family Services at VDSS, noted at the Virginia Safe Sleep Launch event on August 23, 2017 that safe sleep related deaths are the leading cause of infant deaths, age 1 month to 1 year, in Virginia. For the past two years, SCAN—in partnership with over 12 local agencies—has given out over 700 pack-n-plays to low income families in need of a safe sleep environment for their baby in an effort to reduce this number. By becoming a Baby Box Co. distribution site, SCAN will be able to engage with even more parents, not only to share information on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, but also to connect them with the man other resources that SCAN offers parents.

2. Will Baby Boxes really make an impact?

The Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Health. And even though we know that back to sleep is best and reduces the instances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) only 49% of mothers always put their babies on their back to sleep. This recent story underscores the continued need for more education: In our opinion, this program is not all about the box, it is about engaging parents and caregivers and talking about safe sleep. Education is how we really create change.

3. Baby Boxes aren’t endorsed by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, are they?

We understand that baby boxes are not fully endorsed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and that a safety approved crib should be the first choice for a parent when practicing safe sleep. But a traditional crib simply is not a viable option for many families in our community. There was a lot of discussion back and forth between SCAN and the Baby Box Co. We feel that our decision is an educated one and supports the overall mission of SCAN as well as Operation Safe Babies. SCAN sees this opportunity to spread our safe sleep and abusive head trauma messaging to a much larger population of new parents that we may not have otherwise been able to serve.

4. Who else is distributing Baby Boxes in Northern Virginia?

SCAN is currently the only organization working with the Virginia Department of Social Services in our region. We hope more agencies will be doing so soon, and will keep you updated! In addition to Virginia, other states who have launched a Baby Box initiative include Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Colorado.

5. What comes in a Baby Box?

Each Baby Box includes a fitted baby mattress, fitted sheet, waterproof mattress cover and various newborn supplies, as well as our own Operation Safe Babies materials and educational tools.

6. How do parents get a box? How do they know how to use one safely?

Expecting parents can go to and participate in an interactive educational training designed to make sure they know about safe sleep, breast feeding, how to use the baby box, and other important health and developmental information. After successfully taking a quiz at the end of the online training, expecting parents in Northern Virginia will receive a certificate, which they can bring to SCAN to receive one Baby Box filled with a few goodies for baby. When they pick up their box, a SCAN volunteer will go through a checklist of guidelines to confirm they understand safe use. SCAN is distributing boxes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

If you are interested in learning more about Operation Safe Babies or would like to volunteer with the program, please contact Moneka Lyons, Public Education Outreach Coordinator at mlyons(at)

Safe Sleep On the Road: Summer Tips from the Safe to Sleep® Campaign

The national Safe to Sleep® Campaign published an excellent letter this month with a special focus on summer-related tips to help parents keep their babies safe while sleeping and traveling. For more safe sleep resources we invite you to visit the “Safe Sleep for Your Baby” page on the Parent Resource Center here.

Dear Safe to Sleep Community:

It’s summertime! Over the coming months, many families will be traveling to have fun, visit family, and just relax. As your safe sleep partners at home and on the go, we offer the following tips to help guide your conversations with parents and other trusted caregivers as they prepare for their vacations.


Image courtesy of the Safe to Sleep® campaign


Review what a safe sleep environment looks like. This Safe to Sleep® webpageshows the firm, flat sleep area that is safest for infants, including a safety-approved* crib or bassinet covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft items in the sleep area. (*A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. For information on crib safety, contact the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or

Arrange for a safe sleep space at hotels and at your final destination. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a Safe to Sleep® Crib Information Center, which explains that federal crib standards apply to hotels and motels (PDF, 1.97 MB). The Commission also has information on non–full-size cribs, such as travel cribs, and notes that inflatable air mattresses can be a deadly danger.

Use a car seat that is appropriate for your infant’s age, weight, and height. The American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seats: Information for Families webpage provides information about car seats. All infants and toddlers should use a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old. The car seat should be placed in the back seat. When traveling by airplane, children who weigh less than 40 pounds should be fastened in a certified child restraint such as a car seat. Look for a label on the car seat that indicates it can be used on aircraft. Remember, though, that a car seat is not meant for routine sleep and should be used only during travel.

Educate other potential caregivers. While on vacation, other family members may want to place blankets, crib bumpers, or soft toys in the baby’s crib. Our Safe to Sleep® webpages include information for grandparents and other caregivers, including publications (PDF, 414 KB) and videos that offer useful tips for keeping babies safe during sleep. These are also available in Spanish.

NICHD News: A newly published study, funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, found that the blood of infants who died from SIDS contained high levels of serotonin. The finding raises the possibility that a test could be developed to distinguish SIDS cases from other causes of sleep-related, unexpected infant death.

We appreciate all that you do to keep families and babies safe and healthy during the summer and year-round.


Safe to Sleep® Campaign
Office of Communications
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

(Interested in learning more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies program? Click here. You can also explore safe sleep resources on our Parent Resource Center here.)

Operation Safe Babies: An Update + NEW White Paper from SCAN

WhitePaper_OperationSafeBabies-COVEREarlier this week, a group of local service providers gathered in SCAN’s Community Training Room to learn about Operation Safe Babies.  Although many come in to these events with some knowledge on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, there are always new issues discussed and important ideas shared. Everyone walks away with valuable information and resources to share as they work with the parents and caregivers in their communities.

As we continue to expand our circle of Operation Safe Babies partners this fall — including organizations like The Center for Alexandria’s Children, Arlington County DHS and Fairfax County Health Department — what better time to publish our NEW white paper: Operation Safe Babies: Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia? This is the third in a series of white papers SCAN has published for service providers this year, and focuses on SIDS & SUIDS, Abusive Head Trauma, and Education & Prevention, as well as 7 excellent “Calls to Action.” I hope you will take a moment to download and share this important resource.

Do you have questions about Operation Safe Babies? Please don’t hesitate to contact me to learn more about how we might be able to work together in your community to support parents and keep infants safe. As the white paper notes:

“It is important to make sure that new parents have a support network in place made up of family and friends that they can call on for support.”

We are ALL a part of those support networks. How will you take action to keep babies safe?

– Tracy Leonard, SCAN Public Education Manager