A local hospital is reducing infants sleep related deaths by teaching safe sleep practices

YAKIMA Wash. -- Is your baby sleeping properly at night?

According to medical specialists thousands of babies die every year due to sleep related deaths.

A local hospital is helping parents learn about safe sleep practices to help reduce these deaths.

Virginia Mason Memorial hospital in Yakima has been recognized as a Cribs for Kids National Silver Certified Safe Sleep Leader.

Assistant Nurse Manager for Memorials Family Birth Place Jenifer Rhea says, they have trained their staff to educate parents on the right way their baby should be sleeping.

She says some of the practices involves teaching parents that a baby should be left alone sleeping in a crib.

“A baby is safest when they’re sleeping on their back, alone in a crib with just a sleep sack. No extra blankets no bumpers no toys, just the baby in the crib on their back," said Rhea.

According to Neonatologist and Medical Director of research at Cribs for Kids Michael Goodstein, sleep related deaths result in the loss of more than 3,500 infants every year in the United States.

Rhea says babies should sleep in the same room as their parents for the first year of the baby’s life, but should avoid having the baby sleep in the same bed as the parent.

“Parents can rollover and suffocate the baby, mommy can be breastfeeding and fall asleep on the baby or baby can be trapped in blankets," said Rhea.

Rhea says it's also unsafe for a baby to sleep in the car seat or anything that isn’t flat because the baby’s airway can easily get cut off.

The hospital is making sure every parent receives a pamphlet and watches a video on safe sleeping practices before leaving the hospital.

They also make sure their Child Birth Education team, Maternal Child Health team and their team from Children’s Village is teaching safe sleeping practices as well.

Virginia Mason Memorial has also received a grant from Memorial Foundation, so they will be able to send every family home with a sleep sack for their babies, starting in January.

“Its very rewarding because there’s a lot of people involved in making it happen and it’s one of our top priorities is making sure that our babies are safe, that they’re sleeping safely," said Rhea.

For more information on safe sleep practices and the Cribs for Kids website click here.

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