Thrive by IU Health

August 12, 2021

New bassinets deliver safety and comfort for babies and parents

IU Health Arnett Hospital

New bassinets deliver safety and comfort for babies and parents

At Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital, an effort to replace bassinets from the past has resulted in a leap into the future.

Thanks to a $70,000 gift from the IU Health Foundation, the Lafayette hospital’s labor and delivery department has purchased 20 Halo BassiNests, state-of-the-art bassinets with features that could reduce infant deaths – a point that is especially important in Indiana, which ranks among the nation’s worst states for infant mortality – and increase parental comfort.

Those weren’t the initial objectives when IU Health Arnett started shopping for new bassinets, said Maternal Child Health Clinical Operations Manager Selina McNulty, RN, BN. Her team simply wanted an alternative to older bassinets with wood bases because of the difficulty of cleaning aging wood sufficiently.

Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital

“Wood, over time, breaks down and becomes more porous, and that makes it more difficult to clean,” she said. “We were looking at the bassinets becoming a risk once they got that way and we couldn’t clean them as well as we should.”

To address this concern, McNulty said her team started looking for bassinets that didn’t use wood. In the course of that search, they became aware of the Halo BassiNest, which not only is wood-free, but which also marks a big step forward in terms of overall design.

“I just kept thinking, ‘If I had a baby now, I’d want one of these,’” McNulty said.

IU Health Maternal Child Health Clinical Operations Manager Selina McNulty, RN, BN

The BassiNest is a clear, plastic bassinet sitting on a rolling stand that, like an over-the bed table for meals in the hospital, allows the bassinet to project over a mom’s bed. This means mom can touch the baby, rub its back and simply feel right next to it without having to get out of bed.

In addition, one side of the bassinet can be lowered to allow mom to pick up the baby without having to get out of bed and bend over or twist her body. This can be especially important features for mothers who have just experienced a C-section birth or who have physical disabilities.

But these features offer more than convenience. They also promote safe sleep habits. Often, after they go home from the hospital, parents will bring fussy newborns into bed with them, or sleep on a couch or in a chair with the baby on their chest, or put the baby on its belly to sleep, desperately seeking ways to soothe a crying baby.

Unfortunately, those are dangerous habits that too often result in infant injury or even death, McNulty said.

Having used the BassiNest in the hospital, mom or dad will have learned how to comfort the baby without taking it out of its bassinet, practices they’ll more likely continue when they go home, even if they don’t have a BassiNest, McNulty said.

With its clear sides, the BassiNest also helps parents learn that baby beds should be sparse environments free of objects that could smother or choke a baby. “We do all we can to teach parents to create the safe sleep environment,” McNulty said.

She continued, "Sleeping on backs is always safest for baby, with nothing else in the bed with them … no heavy blankets, no over-swaddling, no toys, no fancy, frilly bumper pads. Keep it all out of there.”

These rules often run counter to family traditions or the advice of others, and many families assume the tragedy of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) won’t happen to them. To dispel that thinking, McNulty often shares this devastating story of her friend:

As many parents do, McNulty’s friend, who is a nurse, often let her first four children sleep on their tummies from time to time when they were babies. She never experienced any issues. But when her fifth child was just six months old, he was put down for a nap on his tummy at daycare, and died from SIDS. Her friend now shares her son’s story as way to help educate parents, families, babysitters, daycare providers and even healthcare providers as a way to honor his memory and help keep other babies safe.

That’s exactly the kind of tragedy that McNulty believes the BassiNest can help prevent, and it’s a result she hadn’t anticipated when she went looking for replacements bassinets.

If you would like to support maternal child health initiatives at IU Health Arnett Hospital, like the Halo BassiNest, please contact IU Health Foundation Development Officer Adrian Brendal.

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