Merit Health Wesley teaches safe sleeping habits for infants

Merit Health Wesley teaches safe sleeping habits for infants
Safe Sleeping at Merit Health Wesley

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Merit Health Wesley is working to educate families on safe sleeping habits for infants, promoting family awareness and providing education about creating a safe sleep environment for newborns.

"Teaching parents the safe way to put their infant down for sleeping is one of the most important ways we can care for babies, long after their have left our care at the hospital," said Phebe McKay, Chief Nursing Officer at Merit Health Wesley. "We want to give parents the tools they need to confidently take care of their babies once they get home."

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related reasons are the leading causes of death in children ages 1 month to 1 year. One way to prevent these tragedies is to create the safest sleeping environment possible for babies.

Instead of traditional blankets, Merit Health Wesley uses recommended sleep sack swaddlers for all babies.

The sleep sack features fabric flaps that swaddle the baby's arms to the body and close securely. They make swaddling safer and easier by giving babies a secure feeling and freedom of leg movement without danger of loose fabric around the head. Upon departure from Merit Health Wesley, each new mother receives a newborn sleep sack to use at home as well as receives training on how to use the sleep sack and what not to do when you lay your baby down for sleep.

Parents are instructed on how to create safe sleep environments, including keeping baby's crib free from soft objects, toys and bedding such as bumper pads and not allowing babies to sleep with parents or family members.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following practices:

· Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.

· Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.

· The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).

· Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.

· Wedges and positioners should not be used.

· Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.

· Don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth.

· Breastfeeding is recommended.

· Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.

· Avoid covering the infant's head or overheating.

· Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.

· Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.

· Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).

Everyone who may come into contact with a baby around his or her sleep time should be aware of these practices. The Birth Center staff encourages parents to share the techniques they learn with all siblings, extended family members, sitters and anyone who may be around their baby during sleep time.

"Safe sleep is everyone's responsibility," said McKay. "The more aware the entire family is about these practices, the better every parent can feel every time they lay their baby down."

This is a release from Merit Health Wesley.