Safe Sleep

Why are we bringing the Worcester Safe Baby Project to Worcester?

The Worcester Safe Baby Project is being brought to Worcester to help reduce the infant mortality rate in the city. Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby in the first year of the baby’s life. For a number of reasons, Worcester has more babies dying in the first year compared to other cities of similar size in Massachusetts. In 2016, the Worcester Healthy Baby Collaborative went to the community to ask “what should we do about this?” One of the ideas we heard was to provide families with a safe sleep space such as a playard,bassinet or crib, as well as with gifts and information for new parents. So we decided we wanted to bring this idea to Worcester, not only the playard itself, but to bring together the community and community agencies to help young families to become aware of local resources. A major goal of the project is also to make available educational materials about safe sleep and other healthy practices in multiple languages because we do know how diverse Worcester is in culture and language. We’re hoping this will help young families, and eventually reduce our infant mortality rate.

How should my baby sleep in the playard, crib, or Baby Box?

Your baby should sleep by themself in the playard, crib or bassinet with nothing but the included mattress and a tightly fitted sheet, on their back with their belly up. This means that no stuffed animals or blankets should be in the playard with your baby. This has been shown as the safest way for a baby to sleep. Babies can sleep in a wearable blanket called a sleep sack, which stays close to the baby’s body and will not go near their face. The playard or bassinet should be placed somewhere that nothing can fall into it and away from heaters, candles, or anything that could start a fire.

Will my baby’s head get flattened if they always sleep on their back?

Babies’ heads get flattened if they’re always in the same position on their back, even when they’re awake. The important thing is not so much what position they sleep in, but rather their position when they’re awake. Tummy time with you watching at all times will allow for your baby to use their neck and shoulder muscles. Infant seats or car seats also remove the pressure of their head while awake. However, it’s important that your baby not sleep in a car seat or infant seat for a long period of time. A crib, bassinet, or playard is the safest way for your baby to sleep. You can also hold your baby while awake to prevent the back of their head from flattening.

What else can I do to make my crib safe?

If you’re using a crib, the mattress should be very firm, so make sure it fits regulations. We don’t recommend a bumper around the edge of the crib, as it can cover the baby’s mouth. Keep the crib, bassinet, or playard free of items like stuffed animals and blankets. The baby should be sleeping alone, without anyone or anything else, in a crib, bassinet or playard.

What if my baby falls asleep with me?

That’s a great question because lots of parents snuggle their baby until the baby falls asleep. As long as you’re awake, it’s okay to hold your baby while they’re asleep. If you use a sling or a carrier, you want to be careful (especially when they are really young) to support their head and that their face isn’t covered by a cloth. What’s dangerous is falling asleep with your baby. You should put your baby into a safe sleep place like a playard, bassinet or crib before you fall asleep. The other thing we don’t recommend is letting your baby sleep for a length of time in a car seat or infant seat, even though they fall asleep with car motion, they should sleep in a safer place like a crib, bassinet or playard.