Anytime Trevor was upset, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” usually did the trick.
Melinda Heidling remembers her infant son as a happy baby who loved to play peek-a-boo.
Memories are all Heidling has left of her only son.
On Monday, Heidling shared her story of losing Trevor with a group of health and child welfare workers at the Oklahoma Leadership Summit on Infant Mortality.
One of the messages Heidling shared for parents who have lost a child — it’s OK to talk about it.
“It’s OK to let other people know what you’ve learned the hard way,” she said.
“Having Trevor die from unsafe sleep is kind of embarrassing because — babies should not die like that. That should not be a reason for them to pass away. If you’re embarrassed by it, you wouldn’t want other people to be, too. Talk about it when it happens. Be open and honest about it when it happens.”
Oklahoma ranked 44
In 2009, Oklahoma ranked No. 44 in the U.S. in infant mortality, the death of a baby less than 1 year old, according to the state Health Department. Each year, about 400 babies in Oklahoma die before their first birthday, according to the Health Department.
Trevor was born Aug. 18, 2009 and died April 9, 2010.
He was almost 8 months old when he was found dead in a bunk bed. The baby was staying the weekend with another adult caregiver who did not have a crib for him to sleep in.
Heidling had been told there was a crib at the home. Trevor died when, during a nap, his head became stuck between the mattress and the bed.
Safe sleeping habits for parents was one of the main topics at the summit Monday.
Many people don’t know it’s safest to put an infant on their back to sleep, said Julie Dillard, who works at the state Health Department, raising awareness about infant safe sleep and sudden infant death syndrome.
The state Health Department is one of many partners involved in the “Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility” initiative.
The mission of the initiative is to educate residents, health care providers, policymakers and clergy members about infant mortality in Oklahoma.
“We focused very heavily on it being everyone’s responsibly,” Dillard said. “It’s not just the Health Department that can share these messages. It really takes everyone who’s in the community to share with their own community some of these safe messages.”
Anyone interested in learning more about infant mortality or the Preparing for a Lifetime initiative can go to the state Health Department’s website at www.ok.gov/health/.