Bristol Regional Medical Center Works to Prevent SIDS with “Sleep Sacks”

Posted on February 1, 2013

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in the postnatal period, more than all other causes combined.

Bristol Regional Medical Center decided its new moms and dads needed to be better educated on how SIDS can be prevented, and the hospital wanted something it could show and not just tell.

While there are many risk factors for SIDS, one of the most common is sleeping with loose blankets that can cover a baby’s face or mouth and interfere with breathing.

The solution? Sleep sacks.

Sleep sacks are wearable blankets that keep babies warmer, more comfortable and, most importantly, safer. However, they also were expensive and difficult to obtain, and parents were not able to realize the importance of the wearable blanket without actually being able to visualize the sleep sack.

Bristol Regional tested a set of sleep sacks made of fleece, but soon discovered these garments were difficult to launder and the material caused many babies to overheat. In 2009, the hospital found sleep sacks made of cotton, which allowed the institution to educate parents and caregivers about safe sleep environments by using the sleep sack wearable blankets in the hospital and providing them as gifts to new parents.

Through the program, parents learned how to use the sleep sack and other means of SIDS prevention. At discharge, they are given a free sleep sack to take home. Bristol Regional’s gift shop also began carrying them at a discounted price.

With 850-950 births per year, it is paramount that Bristol Regional model proper care for babies in the nursery. The hospital now is able to provide a much higher level of education and standards for safe sleep practices for their tiniest patients.

Lessons Learned:

  • Model proper care in the nursery. It is the single biggest influence on how parents will care for their child when they go home.
  • Search out programs that can provide free or reduced-cost products to hospitals.