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Parenting: Creating a Safe Sleep Environment for Baby

Deanna Shisslak, Parent Education Program Manager

My name is Deanna Shisslak. I am the Parent Education Program Manager at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) where I connect families with resources related to pregnancy, caring for your new baby and postpartum support. Watch for future blogs where my team and I will share important information designed to give your family a healthy and safe start in life.

Pregnancy is such an exciting time filled with hope and expectation. It’s also the best time to learn what your baby needs to have a great start in life. Parenting recommendations have changed over the years due to new research and evidence. That’s why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with the latest practices.

Many new parents and grandparents don’t realize that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies sleep exclusively on their back. The recommendation came after years of research and evidence into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep related deaths. As a parent educator, it’s my job to make sure families have the information and education they need to make the best decisions for their new baby.

Safe sleep throughout baby’s first year

According to the AAP, 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths.

To keep your baby safe throughout the first year of life, your baby should…

1.Always be placed on their back for sleep time. A baby should never sleep on the belly or side.

2.Sleep alone in an empty crib with no loose objects. Loose bedding, bumpers, stuffed animals or toys can increase the risk of suffocation and entrapment.

3.Sleep on a firm sleep surface. Never put a baby to sleep on an old mattress, waterbed, sofa or cushioned chair.

4.Sleep in the same room, not in the same bed, as their caregiver. The AAP recommends room sharing with your baby, not bed sharing.

5.Wear light clothing when sleeping, such as a sleep sack. Also keep room temperatures between 68-72 degrees.

6.Not be exposed to tobacco or other smoke. This helps reduce the risk of SIDS.

To learn more about safe sleep, go to www.healthychildren.org/safesleep for a complete list of recommendations.

Old cribs don’t meet current guidelines

Are you saving a cherished heirloom for your new baby? Most cribs manufactured before 2011 don’t meet current safety standards as outlined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Changes beginning in 2011 do not allow cribs to have sides that drop down (kits to immobilize the sides are also not permitted). Changes also include a variety of improvements like harder woods and anti-loosening hardware. In addition, do not use a crib that has missing parts or has been recalled and not repaired.

To check if your crib complies, call the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or visit their website at www.CPSC.gov.

Earn a crib

Families who are unable to purchase a crib, may be eligible to earn a Graco Pack ‘N Play with the help of LVHN, Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital and the national Cribs for Kids® program. You can learn more about the program by talking to your doctor, nurse liaison, nurse navigator or outreach worker.

The Pack ‘N Play has a proven safety record, and can be used until your baby reaches 30 pounds or 35-inches in length. It’s sturdy, easy to assemble, has a convenient travel case and wheels. It also includes an insert that converts into a bassinet and can be used until baby begins to crawl.

Classes for parents and their families

At LVHN and Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital, we offer many classes for parents, families and grandparents. Classes give caregivers the opportunity to learn how to prepare and care for a new baby. They also give you the chance to practice skills, ask questions and get connected to the resources you need so you can give your baby the best start possible. Register online or call 888-402-LVHN, or visit LVHN.org/welcomebaby for more information.