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Sleep-related deaths are the third leading cause of infant mortality among babies between one and 12 months of age. It’s a disheartening statistic, but the good news is that with education and proper resources, it is entirely preventable. And thanks to the work of the IU Health Safe Sleep program, more caregivers are getting the support they need to ensure infants in Indiana rest easy.
When state funding for Safe Sleep lapsed at IU Health Bloomington Hospital, IU Health Foundation began supporting the Community Health/Monroe County Public Health program. This means more Monroe County residents caring for an infant can continue to be trained in lifesaving techniques and have access to supplies necessary to keep their baby safe. IU Health Safe Sleep Coordinator Beth Lucas says the funding has been critical in meeting the needs of mothers, fathers, grandparents and other caregivers across the county.
Program participants complete a one-on-one training course in safe sleep, receive an educational packet and a Pack N’ Play, which is one of the safest places for infants to sleep. Thanks to philanthropy, these resources are available at no cost to the participant.
Lucas likes to remind caregivers that babies should always sleep alone in a crib or Pack N’ Play, on their backs, with nothing else around them. She says many mothers and caregivers worry their infant is cold, and want to put blankets or pillows into their sleep space, but she offers this reminder, “If you’re comfortable, baby is comfortable.” She also warns against placing anything else in or around the crib, including stuffed animals, crib bumpers or pads.
With infant mortality on the rise across Indiana, safe sleep is more important than ever. Lucas says that co-sleeping can also be a risk, and the only way to ensure infant safety is for them to sleep alone in a dedicated space. Other risk factors include smoking in the home and putting babies on their stomachs, but the biggest issue is a lack of education and resources, and that’s precisely what the program is looking to combat.
“Knowledge is power,” Lucas says. “We have to get the word out that safe sleep is so important, because it does prevent infant deaths.”
For donors who support programs like Safe Sleep, Lucas has this message for them: “You have a very important part to play. You’re saving the life of a baby.”
In addition to the Pack N’ Plays, Lucas says the program offers even more valuable support to participants, by connecting them to other resources, like the Indiana Women, Infants, and Children program, Nurse Family Partnership program, smoking cessation courses, infant car seats, vaccinations and more.
“When you donate, you're giving them more than a crib. You're giving them resources that they need.”
And that can help infants, their parents and their caregivers rest much, much easier.
If you would like to donate to IU Health Foundation to support initiatives like the IU Health Safe Sleep program, please contact IU Health Foundation Development Officer Kate Konzen.