Just three months after losing her infant son John Dylan to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 2004, Etobicoke’s Yolanda Guitar mustered the strength to talk about her experience to a group of young mothers at LAMP Community Health Centre.
Determined to help prevent the tragedy that had befallen her family from happening to anyone else, Guitar has built on that first presentation, and for the last eight years has volunteered all her spare time to educating parents on the perils of unsafe sleep during talks all across Etobicoke – including at LAMP, Stonegate CHC, Ontario Early Years Centres, women’s shelters, and beyond.
“Every opportunity I get to speak about it, I do,” she said, noting that her next big event – the Guinness Babeez Swaddle Challenge – takes place back at LAMP on Friday, Oct. 4.
The goal of the event, which aims to claim a Guinness World Record by having more than 250 moms swaddling their infants simultaneously at 10 different sites across Ontario, is to raise awareness of the benefits of proper swaddling as a means of both soothing a crying baby and promoting safe sleep habits, Guitar added.
“In 2012, we lost 41 babies in Ontario due to unsafe sleep – and 38 of those 41 were in bed with their parents,” she said, noting she personally knows of five SIDS deaths in Etobicoke alone over the last year or so. “A lot of times when babies are crying and are fussy, parents will bring them into bed with them to calm them down, but another way to calm them down is to properly swaddle them. So, with this event, hopefully we’re giving parents another option for safe sleep.”
During Friday’s Guinness Babeez Swaddle Challenge at LAMP, parents of babies under five months (and who aren’t yet rolling) are invited to take part in the challenge, and in return they’ll receive a free Halo SleepSack for participating.
Endorsed by the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (CFSID), Guitar described the Halo SleepSack as a “dummy-proof” wearable blanket that’s safest to use when swaddling babies.
So far, nearly a dozen parents have registered to take part in the challenge at LAMP, but Guitar is hoping for many more to sign up with their babies.
The Guinness Babeez Swaddle Challenge kicks off on Friday, Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. at LAMP, 185 Fifth St., and runs until noon. All interested participants are asked to register in advance at www.preciousmomentsbabeez.com/babeezswaddlechallenge-west-toronto.html
In addition to the Halo SleepSack giveaway for participants, there will also be a draw for a safe sleep crib set worth $100, door prizes and swag bags to take home.
Guitar encouraged all parents of infants to attend: “It’s another avenue for me to get that safe sleep information out there. The more people I can get that message out there to, the better.”