Safe Sleep Modeling Starts During the Postpartum Period

Laura Griffith-Gilbert, MSN, RNC-OB, Ramona Hunter, DNP, WHNP-BC, C-EFM, Irene Cisneros, BSN, RN, Stephanie Flores, BSN, RN, Connie Hernandez, BSN, RN-BC, Christie Lawrence, DNP, RNC-NIC, APN/CNS, Carrie Drazba, MD, Gina Lowell, MD, MPH, Jean Silvestri, MD
ABC’s of Safe Sleep poster

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a catastrophic reality for too many families. Rush University Children’s Hospital (RUCH) is committed to ensuring a safe sleep environment for all newborns and infants during and after their hospital stays.

This project was initiated in 2018 on the postpartum unit, 8 Atrium. The initial audit in 2018 revealed that only 13% of parents stated that they were educated on safe sleep and only 60% of infant beds were found to be compliant with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations.

Since that time, several quality improvement methodologies were employed to improve these metrics. New interventions were implemented in March 2018, with flyers posted in patient rooms in August 2019 with the Safe Sleep education that included the Sleep Sack, and May 2020 that allowed us to provide eligible families with free cribettes.

Interventions included patient and staff education on the ABC’s of Safe Sleep, which means that babies sleep alone on their back in a safe crib. Other education included avoiding toys and extraneous items in the cribs where newborns sleep.

For most of the families and caregivers, this represented a huge cultural shift from many traditional infant care practices which typically included crib bumpers, stuffed animals, and large fluffy blankets in cribs.

Visible crib cards and room wall posters picturing the ABC’s of Safe Sleep were placed prominently on infant cribs and in the patient rooms. Sleep sacks are utilized for newborns when hospitalized after birth and given to parents at discharge to encourage parents to continue these safe sleep practices at home.

For parents in need of a safe sleep environment when discharged, RUCH offered portable cribs for use at home.

In August 2019, 100% of parents and guardians confirmed education about safe sleep and 99% of beds were found compliant with safe sleep recommendations. Only 1% of parents who received education violated Safe Sleep recommendations.

A subsequent audit in June of 2020 demonstrated that 100% of parents were educated on safe sleep practices and 99% of infant cribs were now compliant with AAP safe sleep recommendations.

This project is a success and we will continue to promote safe sleep for newborns in the hospital as our contribution to decreasing infant mortality that can occur as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.