Born from an idea at the annual Healthy Mom and Baby Innovation Competition, team members from the Mirro Center for Research and Innovation developed a safe sleep simulation intended to educate members of the community on the proper guidelines for safe sleep and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
“We know this isn’t just for parents,” Alyssa Ehinger, innovation project specialist, Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, said. “Often, it takes a multigenerational approach to change the thought process around safe sleep.”
Safe Sleep Guidelines
Much of the challenge comes from the evolution of what we know about infant care and safety. “Twenty years ago, people would tell you babies should sleep on their stomachs, because if they spit up, then it could come out. But what we’ve learned about anatomy and science is that this isn’t true,” Alyssa said.
Kirsten King, community health worker, Parkview Health, shares the ABCs of safe sleep, which are, the baby should be Alone, on their Back, in a Crib. “We also recommend that parents avoid co-sleeping, use a pacifier, keep the baby’s room at a comfortable temperature and that there’s no smoking in the home,” Kirsten said.
The curriculum and simulation were developed by the innovation team in collaboration with community health workers, nurse navigation and Healthier Moms and Babies. Initially, they targeted community workers, home visitors and hospitals, but they’ve since expanded to provide simulation education to middle school students and those taking babysitting courses.
It’s important to reach a younger audience because, “a lot of these infants are taken care of by siblings, and younger kids babysitting after school and weekends,” Alyssa said. “We think this should feed into future generations and prevent future deaths.”
Saving others from heartache
Perhaps no one feels as strongly about the value of safe sleep education than parents who have experienced the unimaginable grief of losing an infant. It’s certainly the case for Hallie Henry, who lost her four-month-old daughter, Brier, to SIDS seven years ago. Brier, who was at the babysitter’s at the time, stopped breathing after falling asleep briefly in a swing.
“It’s so important to tell Brier’s story and bring awareness to this issue because people don’t understand that a just few minutes in a swing can result in something so devastating,” Hallie shared. “It only takes one time, and just seconds, for something to go wrong.”
Hallie believes that helping parents and caregivers understand the guidelines for safe sleep is a powerful step in reducing the risk of future heartache for other families. “I think it’s amazing what Mirro is doing with this safe sleep simulation and outreach to the community.”
If you would like to learn more about Safe Sleep Simulation, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a parent looking for guidance on safe sleep for your newborn or infant, be sure to speak to your pediatrician. We also offer classes, such as “Basic & Beyond Parenting Class” which can be found under Classes and Events on parkview.com.