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Supporting Safe Sleep for Babies: Aspirus St. Luke's is First Minnesota Hospital to Receive National Certification

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A newborn in their sleep sackPublished in Moms & Dads Today magazine, March/April 2018

Supporting Safe Sleep for Babies

St. Luke’s is First Minnesota Hospital to Receive National Certification

For new parents, sleep is a big deal. How to get enough sleep, how to care for a new baby on little sleep and how to get a baby to fall asleep are common discussion points. St. Luke’s Birthing Center—having earned both a national certification and state recognition—is moving another sleep topic to the front of parents’ minds: what is a safe sleep environment for baby?

St. Luke’s is the first hospital in Minnesota to receive a National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification as a Silver Safe Sleep Leader by Cribs for Kids®. This organization is dedicated to preventing infant sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation.

To earn this certification, the St. Luke’s team had to implement and maintain a safe sleep policy, train staff annually, audit progress, use sleep sacks instead of blankets, and provide education to parents prior to discharge.

“We’re setting parents up for success when they take their baby home, making sure we are modeling behaviors they can repeat once they leave the Birthing Center,” said Lori Swanson, Nurse Manager for Maternal Child Health.

The path toward certification started with a perinatal safety roadmap, created by the Minnesota Hospital Association. While St. Luke’s had been educating parents on safe sleep in the past, it wasn’t a formalized program.

“Implementing these steps to become Safe Sleep Certified involved a fundamental shift across the Birthing Center,” Swanson explained. “Our staff now receives safe sleep training on an annual basis so they can give the same information every time to every family.”

Swanson went on to explain the importance of repeating a consistent message so that there isn’t confusion as parents go home. There’s already enough to think about as a new parent, so Cribs for Kids created a simple guideline: the ABCs of safe sleep.

Alone: Keep your baby’s sleep area close but separate from where others sleep.

Your baby should not sleep with others in a bed, on a couch or in a chair.

Back: Your baby should be placed to sleep on his or her back in a safety-approved crib on a firm mattress or in an approved Baby Box with a mattress every time during naps and at nighttime.

Crib: Remove all loose bedding, comforters, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed animals, bumpers, wedges and pillows from your baby’s crib.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center also sends every baby home with a Halo SleepSack, which is the only safe sleep-approved blanket available. New parents may receive stuffed animals or blankets as gifts from visitors, which presents another opportunity to discuss with parents what can compromise a safe sleep environment; these items should not be left in the crib.

“Parents want to do whatever they can to give their baby the best start possible,” Swanson said. “Our goal is to provide them with evidence-based safe sleep practices so they can make the best decisions possible for their family when they go home.”