The Infant Apnea Team at Christiana Hospital is part of the Delaware Chapter of Cribs for Kids, a program that provides cribs for infants under the age of six months if their families can’t afford one. The program is spearheading an initiative to eradicate bed sharing, which is a major risk factor for sudden unexplained infant death, or SUID.
The practice of multiple-birth siblings sharing a crib, also known as co-bedding, is not permitted in any of Christiana Care’s Maternal-Child Health units.
“In addition to the cribs, we educate parents on safe sleeping,” said Katherine E. Lefebvre, RN, MSN, CPNP. “This is the most important piece to promoting safe sleep, done in both the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and on the post-partum floors.”
Lefebvre and Pamela Jimenez, RN, MSN, FNP-C/PNP-C, are members of the Safe Sleep Committee of the State of Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission.
The Cribs for Kids program has provided nearly 250 portable cribs throughout the state, many to parents with multiple births.
“Families with twins often can afford one crib but not two,” Lefebvre says.
Sharing a crib or other space, such as a bed or playpen, can result in tragedy. A review by the Safe Sleep Committee of 18 sleep-related deaths of infants in 2008–09 revealed that 14 of the deaths occurred when the baby was sleeping with siblings or adults.
Guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics state that siblings, including multiples, should not share a bed.
Delaware’s rate of infant mortality is worse than the national average, ranked 44th of the 50 states, with eight deaths for every 1,000 births.
“Through education, we are working to alert parents to the dangers of cobedding,” Jimenez says. “By providing free cribs to parents, babies don’t have to share a crib or a bed with others, resulting in a safer environment.”
To learn more, download A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sleep (PDF), from the American Academy of Pediatrics.