Is Your Infant a Safe Sleeper?

Today on the blog – in conjunction with Touro Infirmary – we are absolutely thrilled to be opening a dialog about sleep through our “Rest Assured: You Are Not Alone” series. As moms we are all often sleep deprived, and we struggle with making decisions around our children’s sleep habits as well. Should we use a crib or a bassinet? Is co-sleeping safe or not? Should we sleep train? And who IS the expert on sleep training anyway? Will the baby ever sleep more than 2 hours at a time? Why does my toddler have night terrors? When do I move the toddler to a “big kid” bed and oh my word why won’t they stay in the darn thing? Our goal through this series is to create a safe place for all of us to open up about the sleep issues that trouble us and to acknowledge that no matter our struggles or choices, we are never ever alone.

Unsafe Sleep Environments Lead to Infant Deaths

In Louisiana, approximately 80 babies die each year from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the broad medical term for sudden, unexplained deaths of infants before they reach their first birthdays. SIDS occurs when otherwise healthy babies die in their sleep for no apparent reason. These deaths are often related to an unsafe sleep environment, and all new mothers and their families need to understand the importance of placing infants in a safe sleeping environment to reduce the risk of SIDS/SUIDS.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Bureau of Family Health has launched a Safe Sleep Champion Initiative to encourage hospitals to play an active role in educating families about safe infant sleep. Touro Infirmary recently completed the requirements, making the hospital a “Safe Sleep Champion.” Infographic courtesy National Institute of Health.

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As a Safe Sleep Champion, Touro is prioritizing educating all new mothers and families on recommendations made by American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep related infant deaths.

What is a Safe Sleep Environment?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends several actions related to creating a safe sleep environment for infants.  AAP’s Recommendations include:

  • Placing the baby on his/her back to sleep for every sleep
  • Using a firm sleep surface
  • Sharing the room, but not the bed
  • Keeping soft objects and loose objects out of the crib

Sleeping Position

The supine sleep position (sleeping on back/face-up) is recommended for infants to reduce the risk of SIDS. Side sleeping is not safe and is not advised. Once an infant can roll from the supine to prone (face down) and from the prone to supine position, the infant can be allowed to remain in the sleep position that he or she assumes. Supervised, awake tummy time on a daily basis can promote motor development and minimize the risk of positional plagiocephaly (development of a flat spot on the back of the head).

Choosing Bedding

While there is an array of beautiful crib bedding and accessories to choose from, parents are advised to avoid placing loose and potentially hazardous items in the crib. This includes pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and other soft surfaces when placed under the infant or loose in the sleep environment. Wedges and positioning devices, as well as bumper pads and similar products are not recommended.

Click here for information from the National Institute of Health on reducing the risk of SIDS/SUIDS through creating a safe sleep environment for infants in your life.

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Jill Serpas, RNC-OB, BS

unnamed (4)Jill Serpas, RNC-OB, BS is a Clinical Nurse Educator in Touro’s Family Birthing Center. Jill earned her nursing degree from Charity Hospital School of nursing in 1981 and a BS from Our Lady of Holy Cross College in 1989. Jill earned her RN-certification in Inpatient Obstetrics in 1993, and has practiced nursing for over 25 years. She is a valued member of the Labor and Delivery Staff at Touro. 


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