Newborns and infants need a safe sleep environment in order to reduce the risk of injury or death from unintentional suffocation due to sleeping with objects or another human that may occlude the infant's airway. Key elements of a safe sleep environment consists of infants sleeping alone and on their back (not on their tummy), in a crib with a firm mattress that fits snugly against the sides of a safety-approved crib, and in the same room as the parent/caregiver. Infants should not sleep with another adult or child, and not in an adult bed or couch. Infant cribs should not contain stuffed toys, blankets, bumper pads, and other objects. Infants should not be exposed to tobacco smoke. In addition, all parents are encouraged to consider breastfeeding their baby.
In 2017, the DIvision of MCH embarked on a major education and outreach campaign for health care providers and for parents of infants. Focus groups of parents and providers informed the education campaign by analyzing participants' knowledge and approaches to creating infant safe sleep environments. From this formative research, a full messaging campaign was created, consisting of pamphlets, Facebook postings, a new VDH website section, and slide presentations for informing parents and for training providers. In addition, through a collaboration with the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program, work was inititiated with Vermont's birth hospitalts. The VCHIP project is to support birth hospital nursing leadership to create and implement safe sleep training for nursing staff and supports for parents of newborns and infants who are admitted to the hostpital (for newborn delivery or medical treatment.) A key role of the MCHC, as local nursing experts on infant safe sleep, is to collaborate and assist the Birth Hospitals to implement these educational activities to support promotion of infant safe sleep.
The Vermont research reports and educational materials can be found at