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Washington Regional Promotes Safer Sleep for Babies

A specially designed garment is part of an initiative at Washington Regional’s Johnelle Hunt Center for Women to promote safer sleep for infants.

“We want to make sure that all our families are getting off to the healthiest start, right from the very beginning,” says Carla Rider, director of nursing for women’s and infants’ services at Washington Regional. “Recognizing that one of the biggest dangers for newborns is loose blankets in the crib that can cover the baby’s face and interfere with breathing, all babies born at Washington Regional will now be placed in a sleep sack,” Rider says, describing the garment as a wearable blanket. The sleep sack is easy to use and eliminates the need for any blankets that may pose a risk for newborns.

In addition to providing each family with a sleep sack, nurses at Washington Regional will teach parents safe sleep practices as part of the initiative, which is modeled after the National Institutes of Health “Safe to Sleep” campaign focusing on sleep-related causes of death, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. SIDS refers to any unexplained, sudden death of an infant aged 1-12 months. In the years since the National Institutes of Health launched the campaign, formerly called “Back to Sleep,” SIDS-related deaths nationwide have been reduced by about 50 percent.

As the leading cause of death for infants aged 1-12 months, however, SIDS remains a significant health concern – especially in Arkansas, where the rate of infant deaths is among the nation’s highest. The Washington Regional initiative focuses on modeling safe sleep practices in the hospital; educating parents and families about safe sleep practices at home; and educating the community about the importance of safe sleep, Rider says, with a goal of increasing awareness of the ABC’s of safe sleep for infants: Alone. On their Back. In a Crib.