They say it takes a village to raise a child. Keeping babies healthy and safe during sleep is no different. Whether a mom or dad, family member, doctor, social worker, or community leader – all have a role to play in making sure babies sleep safely.
HealthCare Access Maryland’s (HCAM) Safe Sleep Coordinator, Jada, recently connected with a new dad through a referral made through the hospital where his baby was born. The new father learned he would be getting custody of his newborn daughter on the day she was being discharged from the hospital – and needed support. He confided with Jada his worries about making the transition to parenthood and his inexperience but shared that he wanted to do everything to ensure his daughter was healthy and cared for.
Jada worked with him to understand the other areas he needed help and his support system. While he did have a crib, he needed many other baby supplies. She connected the new dad to a home visiting program, referred him to the Judy Center – a center for early childhood education and family support – where he could gain more support, and connected him to other local partners who could provide a car seat and other essential baby supplies. She also walked him through the ABCD’s of safe sleep– Alone, Back, Crib, and Don’t Smoke – the safest way for baby to sleep for every nap and every night.
HCAM’s Safe Sleep Program, a partnership with B’More for Healthy Babies, works with hundreds of Baltimore parents and family members welcoming a new baby every year. The program works to prevent sleep-related infant deaths and offer support during the early stages of a new baby’s life.
October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. Infant sleep-related deaths are one of the leading causes of death for babies in Baltimore, and they are overwhelmingly preventable. Between 2009 and 2018, sleep-related infant deaths were reduced by over 70% in Baltimore City as a result of increased education and support.
The Safe Sleep Program supports individuals caring for a baby that is up to twenty-four pounds, up to 8 months in age, and/or who do not have a safe place for their baby to sleep. For those who are unable to buy, borrow, or receive a crib as a gift, the Safe Sleep Program can provide a portable crib at no cost.
Safe Sleep Coordinator, Meeshawn, shares “Program participants can expect to walk away with an abundance of education surrounding the ABCD’s of safe sleep, become familiar with acceptable and unacceptable sleep devices, and learn about community resources in Baltimore City.” Program participants receive a new pack and play, and Safe Sleep bag with a swaddle garment, crib mattress sheet, diapers, wipes, and educational materials about safe sleep and pregnancy and post-partum care. Safe Sleep Coordinators are committed to the health and safety of our community, and during the pandemic are providing contactless delivery of pack and plays and supplies.
HCAM’s Safe Sleep Coordinators remind parents, family members, and caregivers to share a room, not the bed. Babies should always sleep in a crib that is free of blankets and toys. Jada encourages parents to create a consistent safe sleep bedtime routine. “That means trying to have the same sleep conditions and routine for baby at all naps and at night.”
Parenting a newborn is demanding and safe sleep takes practice. If you need support, contact the Safe Sleep program to learn if you are eligible for services at 410-649-0500, option 2.
Want to help support the Safe Sleep program?
It takes the whole community working together to ensure safe sleep for every baby. Our team strives to provide families and babies with items they need, including sleep sacks, diapers, wipes, and health and safety kits. You can donate baby care supplies through HCAM’s Amazon Charity List.