Comcast Newsmakers: SCAN Shares Operation Safe Babies with the Community

We’re excited to share this new interview about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies program. It’s a great, simple way to share an overview of the program–and why it’s so important–with the parents and families in your community! SCAN’s Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard recently taped a segment on Comcast Newsmakers, sharing general guidelines when it comes to safe sleep for babies, as well as how SCAN is working with The Baby Box Company and Cribs for Kids to get parents in our region the education and resources they need to keep their babies safe:

Please share this video with your networks! And learn more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies Program here.

 

Gathering Our Safe Sleep Partners: News + Trends from Operation Safe Babies

As a requirement of grant funding, we gather all of our Operation Safe Babies partners together twice a year. But we think of it as much more than a “requirement”. It truly is a special opportunity to get together and share success stories and challenges of not only the Operation Safe Babies program, but also of working with expecting mothers. It is a time where those of us involved are able to get support, share ideas, discuss research and trade resources. At our January meeting, we were packed with over 25 partners! Here are some of the things we shared with them:

When talking to mothers, think about saying this: “How often does baby sleep with you?” (Instead of, “Where does baby sleep?”) This allows for a more honest discussion. We know that moms are co-sleeping with their babies, and this provides us with a chance to talk through why it is not safe, rather than taking a more accusatory tone of “don’t do it”.

When caregivers ask, “Won’t my baby get cold?” use this response: “Baby should only have 1 more layer of clothing than an adult when sleeping, like a Halo Sleep Sack.” Caregivers should know a safe option (i.e. the Halo Sleep Sack) and that babies do not need to be bundled in blankets. They will overheat and be at an increased risk of SIDS.

When parents ask about swaddling, share this recommendation: Stop swaddling when a baby develops sufficient motor skills that would allow them to roll from their back to their stomach. (This could be as early as 3 months). Even when swaddled, babies must always be placed on their back.

We were also able to share data from a recent study done by the CDC: Vital Signs: Trends and Disparities in Infant Safe Sleep Practices – United States, 2009-2015

Among reporting mothers (PRAMS):
21.6% reported placing their infant to sleep in a nonsupine position
61.4% shared their bed with their infant
38.5% reported using soft bedding

Noted risk factors:
American Indian or Alaska Native mothers
Non-Hispanic Black mothers
Those under 20 and who have had less education

And we were also able to share with them the new Cribette that Cribs for Kids is providing as a safe sleep option. We had one on-site that partners could see in person and then we watched the following video that shows how to put one up and take it down:

— Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month – Here are 5 things you can do TODAY to protect the infants in your community

Providing a safe sleep environment for a baby is one of the first things you can do to protect and nurture a child. October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month (#safesleepawareness) — and there is no better time to share 5 simple things you can do today to make sure the parents you know have the information and resources that can help them make the best parenting decisions when it comes to safe sleep!

  1. Take the Safe Sleep pledge from the Virginia Department of Social Services. Then share it with every parent, caregiver, babysitter and grandparent you know!
  2. Speaking of grandparents, use these Safe Sleep FAQs for Grandparents (here in English or Spanish) to educate older adults in a baby’s life. Guidelines have changed drastically, and this tool helps explain why.
  3. Download our Parent Resource Center App for direct access to resources like fact sheets and radio shows on Safe Sleep, Soothing a Crying Baby and Understanding Baby Blues/Post-Partum Depression.
  4. Learn more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies program, including our free Pack-n-Play distribution and our NEW work as a Baby Box distribution site.
  5. Read about the latest guidelines on safe sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics. We also produced a Parenting Today segment on this topic. Listen here.

(And here’s one extra thing you can do — follow @scanofnova and our Safe Sleep partners @cribsforkids, @VDSS, and @babyboxcompany on Twitter for updates, research and more on safe sleep! @NICHD_NIH also has excellent resources.)

 

 

Baby Boxes: Questions & Answers As We Launch a New Program

This fall, SCAN of Northern Virginia is expanding its Operation Safe Babies program to include baby boxes and education through the Baby Box Co. and Baby Box University. We’ve explored the topic of baby boxes in the past, researched safe sleep and devoted much energy to our Operation Safe Babies program. And we know you have questions! Here we share some of the most common questions we’ve received so far. If you have others, please let us know.

1. You already distribute Pack-n-Plays through Operation Safe Babies. Why are you adding Baby Boxes to the mix?
Carl Ayers, Director of the Division of Family Services at VDSS, noted at the Virginia Safe Sleep Launch event on August 23, 2017 that safe sleep related deaths are the leading cause of infant deaths, age 1 month to 1 year, in Virginia. For the past two years, SCAN—in partnership with over 12 local agencies—has given out over 700 pack-n-plays to low income families in need of a safe sleep environment for their baby in an effort to reduce this number. By becoming a Baby Box Co. distribution site, SCAN will be able to engage with even more parents, not only to share information on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, but also to connect them with the man other resources that SCAN offers parents.

2. Will Baby Boxes really make an impact?

The Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Health. And even though we know that back to sleep is best and reduces the instances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) only 49% of mothers always put their babies on their back to sleep. This recent story underscores the continued need for more education: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-parents-still-put-babies-at-risk-of-sids/. In our opinion, this program is not all about the box, it is about engaging parents and caregivers and talking about safe sleep. Education is how we really create change.

3. Baby Boxes aren’t endorsed by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, are they?

We understand that baby boxes are not fully endorsed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and that a safety approved crib should be the first choice for a parent when practicing safe sleep. But a traditional crib simply is not a viable option for many families in our community. There was a lot of discussion back and forth between SCAN and the Baby Box Co. We feel that our decision is an educated one and supports the overall mission of SCAN as well as Operation Safe Babies. SCAN sees this opportunity to spread our safe sleep and abusive head trauma messaging to a much larger population of new parents that we may not have otherwise been able to serve.

4. Who else is distributing Baby Boxes in Northern Virginia?

SCAN is currently the only organization working with the Virginia Department of Social Services in our region. We hope more agencies will be doing so soon, and will keep you updated! In addition to Virginia, other states who have launched a Baby Box initiative include Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Colorado.

5. What comes in a Baby Box?

Each Baby Box includes a fitted baby mattress, fitted sheet, waterproof mattress cover and various newborn supplies, as well as our own Operation Safe Babies materials and educational tools.

6. How do parents get a box? How do they know how to use one safely?

Expecting parents can go to www.babyboxuniversity.com and participate in an interactive educational training designed to make sure they know about safe sleep, breast feeding, how to use the baby box, and other important health and developmental information. After successfully taking a quiz at the end of the online training, expecting parents in Northern Virginia will receive a certificate, which they can bring to SCAN to receive one Baby Box filled with a few goodies for baby. When they pick up their box, a SCAN volunteer will go through a checklist of guidelines to confirm they understand safe use. SCAN is distributing boxes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

If you are interested in learning more about Operation Safe Babies or would like to volunteer with the program, please contact Moneka Lyons, Public Education Outreach Coordinator at mlyons(at)scanva.org.

SCAN of Northern Virginia Becomes a Baby Box Co. Distribution Site in Partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services

August 25, 2017—This fall, SCAN of Northern Virginia is expanding its Operation Safe Babies program to include baby boxes and education through the Baby Box Co. and Baby Box University.  Expecting parents will be able to go to www.babyboxuniversity.com and participate in an interactive educational training designed to make sure they know about safe sleep, breast feeding, how to use the baby box, and other important health and developmental information.  After successfully taking a quiz at the end of the online training, expecting parents will receive a certificate good for one Baby Box filled with a few supplies for baby. SCAN is currently the only distribution site in Northern Virginia.

Virginia launched a statewide Safe Sleep initiative at a launch event on August 23, 2017. At that event, Carl Ayers, Director of the Division of Family Services at the Virginia Department of Social Services, said that safe sleep related deaths are the leading cause of infant deaths, age 1 month to 1 year, in Virginia.  In an effort to reduce this tragic statistic here in Northern Virginia, for the past two years, SCAN of Northern Virginia has led a partnership with a dozen other local agencies to distribute more than 700 pack-n-plays to low income families in need of a safe sleep environment for their baby.  By becoming a Baby Box Co. distribution site, SCAN will be able to engage with even more parents, not only to share information on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, but also to connect them with the numerous parenting resources offered by SCAN.  The Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Health.  And even though we know that back to sleep is best and reduces the instances of SIDS/SUID (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/Sudden Unexplained Infant Death), only 49% of mothers always put their babies on their back to sleep (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-parents-still-put-babies-at-risk-of-sids/).  This program is not all about the box, it is about engaging parents and caregivers and talking about safe sleep.

At SCAN, we believe that every child deserves love and nurturing as they learn and develop. We also believe that parents truly love their children and want to be good parents; but we also know that parenting can be tough. Many parents feel isolated in the difficult job of parenting and need information, skills and support to become positive, nurturing influences in their children’s lives.  Our partnership with the Baby Box Co. will allow us to continue to be an accessible, useful source of parenting information, support and connections among families and those who influence families throughout Northern Virginia.

Parents who are interested in the Baby Box University should go to www.babyboxuniversity.com .  If you are interested in learning more about Operation Safe Babies and would like to volunteer with the program, please contact Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager at tleonard@scanva.org.

Safe Sleep On the Road: Summer Tips from the Safe to Sleep® Campaign

The national Safe to Sleep® Campaign published an excellent letter this month with a special focus on summer-related tips to help parents keep their babies safe while sleeping and traveling. For more safe sleep resources we invite you to visit the “Safe Sleep for Your Baby” page on the Parent Resource Center here.

Dear Safe to Sleep Community:

It’s summertime! Over the coming months, many families will be traveling to have fun, visit family, and just relax. As your safe sleep partners at home and on the go, we offer the following tips to help guide your conversations with parents and other trusted caregivers as they prepare for their vacations.

 

Image courtesy of the Safe to Sleep® campaign



 

Review what a safe sleep environment looks like. This Safe to Sleep® webpageshows the firm, flat sleep area that is safest for infants, including a safety-approved* crib or bassinet covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft items in the sleep area. (*A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. For information on crib safety, contact the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or http://www.cpsc.gov.)

Arrange for a safe sleep space at hotels and at your final destination. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a Safe to Sleep® Crib Information Center, which explains that federal crib standards apply to hotels and motels (PDF, 1.97 MB). The Commission also has information on non–full-size cribs, such as travel cribs, and notes that inflatable air mattresses can be a deadly danger.

Use a car seat that is appropriate for your infant’s age, weight, and height. The American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seats: Information for Families webpage provides information about car seats. All infants and toddlers should use a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old. The car seat should be placed in the back seat. When traveling by airplane, children who weigh less than 40 pounds should be fastened in a certified child restraint such as a car seat. Look for a label on the car seat that indicates it can be used on aircraft. Remember, though, that a car seat is not meant for routine sleep and should be used only during travel.

Educate other potential caregivers. While on vacation, other family members may want to place blankets, crib bumpers, or soft toys in the baby’s crib. Our Safe to Sleep® webpages include information for grandparents and other caregivers, including publications (PDF, 414 KB) and videos that offer useful tips for keeping babies safe during sleep. These are also available in Spanish.

NICHD News: A newly published study, funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, found that the blood of infants who died from SIDS contained high levels of serotonin. The finding raises the possibility that a test could be developed to distinguish SIDS cases from other causes of sleep-related, unexpected infant death.

We appreciate all that you do to keep families and babies safe and healthy during the summer and year-round.

Sincerely,

Safe to Sleep® Campaign
Office of Communications
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

(Interested in learning more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies program? Click here. You can also explore safe sleep resources on our Parent Resource Center here.)

Safe Sleep Radio Show + Updates from APP

One of the challenges parents face is the seemingly ever-changing list of recommendations and guidelines they hear about keeping their children safe. We often work with parents who are confused about new suggestions they hear about on the news, in magazines or from friends and relatives.

When it comes to sleep, we know there are some things – like placing a baby on his or her back – that are critical for providing the safest environment possible. (Our Operation Safe Babies program focuses on educating parents about these guidelines.) When the APP (American Academy of Pediactrics) recently announced new recommendations about where a baby should sleep—in a separate safety approved cribt in the room with mom for the first year —we had parents asking lots of new questions!

So, we recorded a new Parenting Today radio show with our friends at iHeartRadio on the topic, and we updated tools on our Parent Resource Center app (here) to help.

Safe Sleep Trainings

SCAN is pleased to be partnering with Smart Beginnings Prince William County to offer valuable Workshops on Safe Sleep to the Greater Prince William community.  The first workshop will be offered on Tuesday, February 21st at 4 pm at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Hospital.

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The FREE workshop is ideal for service providers, health care providers, parents, expecting parents, caregivers, childcare providers and anyone interested in helping spread awareness and information about safe sleep.

Tracy Leonard, SCAN’s Public Education Manager, will present the workshops using materials and information we have compiled through our Operation Safe Babies Program.  Those attending will:

  • Learn about the American Academy of Pediatrics New Safe Sleep Guidelines
  • Learn how to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death
  • Discuss barriers to safe sleep

If you’re interested in learning more about the trainings (or want to register), the following links will be helpful:

 

FAQs: Parents Ask Us About Safe Sleep

Since launching our Operation Safe Babies program last year, we’ve provided safe, portable cribs to more than 325 parents across Northern Virginia. We’ve also answered hundreds of their questions about how to make sleep safe for their babies.

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month, the perfect time to share some of the most common questions we receive and some of the best answers we’ve found in our work:

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Q: Why should I put my baby on her back to sleep? 

A: (From the NIH Safe to Sleep Campaign) Research shows that the back sleep position is the safest for babies. The back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS. Research also shows that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to get fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections. The back sleep position makes it easier for babies to look around the room and to move their arms and legs.

Remember: Babies sleep safest on their backs, and every sleep time counts! 

EXTRA TOOL: Check out the NIH FAQs list for more great answers.

 

Q: I’ve heard co-sleeping can be good for my fussy baby. Is it safe?

A: (From Cribs for Kids) The act of bringing an infant into a sleep environment with adults, other children, or pets puts the baby in danger of suffocating, either by being smothered in bedding; by positional asphyxia, which occurs when a baby’s position prevents them person from breathing adequately; or by being accidentally rolled over by a sleeping companion (overlay).

EXTRA TOOL: An opinion piece in the LA Times this September was met with powerful responses from the medical community, including this letter from the President of the AAP reposted online by Cribs for Kids:

To the editor: The risks of sharing your bed with your infant are not “imaginary,” contrary to the opinion expressed by Robert LeVine and Sarah LeVine.

An adult bed poses very real risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unintentional suffocation, strangulation or entrapment to an infant. Sleep-related infant deaths claim more babies between 1 month and 1 year of age than any other cause.

Multiple studies bear this out. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against bed-sharing.

The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a separate crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet and nothing else, preferably in the parents’ bedroom for up to a year.

Benard Dreyer, MD, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
The writer is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Q: How can I make sure other caregivers are careful when putting my baby to sleep?

A: SCAN developed a “Pledge Card” in English and Spanish. We encourage parents to make copies for babysitters, family members and other caregivers to sign and hang up as a reminder for the children in their care.

EXTRA TOOL: Download SCAN’s white paper for professionals: Operation Safe Babies | Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia

 

Q: What does a “safe sleep” environment look like?

A: The National Institutes of Health has a great online visual tool that allows parents to see and interact with pictures of a bedroom as they learn how to create a safe sleep environment in their own home.

 

What questions have parents asked you about safe sleep? We’d love to help you answer more questions!

What Does Safe Sleep Look Like?

OperationSafeBabies_PledgeCardIt has only been 20 years since the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) began recommending U.S. babies always be placed on their backs for sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Many have caught on to the NICHD’s “Back to Sleep” campaign, but there is so much more to safe sleep than simply putting a baby on their back.  We have to truly think about a safe sleep environment. As those who work closely with families, we must make sure every family member understands what a safe sleep environment is (and isn’t.)  This conversation is a critical part of providing support to parents of newborns who want what is best for their babies, but might not know the best way to advocate for safe sleep environments or how to have intergenerational conversations about what is best for baby today.

What does a safe sleep environment look like?

  • Baby is placed to sleep on their back
  • Baby is placed on a firm sleep surface, in a safety-approved crib that is covered by a fitted sheet
  • There are no toys, stuffed animals, bumpers, pillows or blankets in the sleep area
  • Nothing is covering baby’s head
  • A one-piece sleeper keeps baby warm, no blankets
  • Baby is sleeping in their own crib next to where a parent sleeps
  • Baby never sleeps on an adult bed, couch, chair, or other furniture
  • There is no smoking in the home or around the baby

Having this knowledge is empowering for parents of newborns, especially if they know it comes from a trusted resource like you.  It allows them to better articulate to all of those that care for their baby what a safe sleep environment looks like and that they will accept no less.

We’ve developed some great, downloadable resources for parents and service providers (like the Pledge Card above) through our Operation Safe Babies program. Please explore (and download) them here!

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

SCAN