Mothers typically hear it in the hospital: "'Back is best' for baby's sleep." But dads don't often get the message, leading Baltimore agencies to launch a safe-sleep campaign Tuesday aimed at fathers. 

The initiative includes a video with three dads spelling out why ABC -- alone, back, crib -- is the preferred method to put a baby to bed. 

“Over the last three years, we’ve taught Baltimore mothers about the important role safe sleep plays in the well-being of their baby,” Jonathon Rondeau, president and chief executive officer of the Family League of Baltimore, said in a statement. “But we think that safe sleep concepts should be understood throughout the house. Through this campaign, we want fathers to know that they play a vital part in that understanding.” 

Since the program's launch, sleep-related infant deaths have dropped nearly 50 percent in the city, from 27 in 2009 to 14 last year. The new focus on fathers could reduce the figure further. 

"One child [dying] is too many," Antoine Dow, a Druid Heights father of three says on the video. He owns a barbershop in his neighborhood and said he shares the safe-sleep message with other dads there.

"This general information you share with someone can save a child’s life," Dow said. 

The ABC strategy recommends putting babies to sleep alone, with nothing else -- no blankets, toys or side bumpers, which could suffocate an infant -- on their backs and in a crib, not on mom or dad's bed. 

Doing otherwise is "asking for a tragedy to happen," Antonio Jefferson, a father of five, says on the video, which can be viewed here.

Tricia Bishop is a new mom who covers family issues for The Baltimore Sun.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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