By modeling safe sleep guidelines in our neonatal intensive care units and special care nursery, Akron Children’s Hospital is at the forefront of reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“We know that when parents take their babies home, they’re likely to mimic the positioning or other practices they saw when their babies were hospitalized, especially if the babies have any trouble sleeping,” said Denise Saraniti, BSN, RNC-NIC, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) education and product coordinator. “For this reason, it’s important for us to model the safe sleep practices recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).”
For example, in the past, NICU nurses might have draped a blanket over an enclosed isolette to create a darker environment for sleeping. While this is perfectly safe when the baby is enclosed in an isolette, a parent might try the same thing at home. However, a blanket draped over a regular crib poses a serious suffocation risk.
By adopting the safe sleep practices of the AAP during an infant’s hospital stay, staff can reinforce the best sleep practices for parents and caregivers. These include:
• Placing infants on their backs to sleep
• Covering a firm mattress with a tight-fitting crib sheet
• Allowing nothing to be in the crib with an infant, including toys or other items
• Not placing any blankets over the crib
“If an infant has a medical condition that requires any deviation from these guidelines, an order from the physician or advanced practice provider must be written,” said Saraniti.
As an alternative to covering babies with blankets, Akron Children’s is now using wearable blankets, or SleepSacks, made by Michigan-based HALO Innovations, Inc., for all babies who are in an open crib. AAP’s latest guideline suggests the use of wearable blankets instead of loose blankets to help reduce the risk of accidental suffocation.
Children’s first began using SleepSacks on our Akron campus in October 2012, when we joined the HALO Safer Way to Sleep Program.
Children’s uses the SleepSack Swaddle, which has swaddling “wings” that wrap around the baby. Not only does this keep babies safe and secure, it also aids their development by keeping their arms properly positioned at their sides.
More than 1,000 hospitals across the country are currently using HALO SleepSack wearable blankets in their neonatal units or nurseries.
“Along with modeling safe sleep guidelines, we also educate parents on these recommendations and show them a video on safe sleep as part of our discharge protocol,” said Saraniti. “We want to do everything we can to reinforce safe sleep practices for our patient families, so they can reduce the risk of SIDS and keep their babies safe.”
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