Safe Sleep: How to Keep Infants Safe

safe sleep

One of the most trying times of parenthood is right at the beginning. As postpartum nurses, we have about 24-36 hours between admission to when we say our last “Congratulations!” as parents roll their giant yellow hospital cart away from the nest of the hospital and into the world.

We cover a lot in those first days of life. How to get out of bed without using any abdominal muscles. How to resist the urge to eat an entire extra cheese pizza right after surgery. How to use a peri bottle. How to begin to take care of this very tiny person. How to feed this very tiny person.

We answer a lot of questions. Will I ever sleep again? Yes, you will be fine, we reassure. Again, you are fine. Oh, that rash? Totally normal. Yellow poo? Totally expected. Feeding every hour? Sure, that’s fine, too.

Safe Sleep: Our Most Important Infant Safety Message

Looking back, we really don’t have that much time to imprint our most important messages regarding infant safety, especially sleep safety. Our new parents are exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed with information. We often enter the patient room to do our safety check and have to wake a sleepy parent and place the baby in the bassinette.

Here is the scary stuff: 60 second CDC safe sleep alert

We role model safe sleep by taking away extra stuff found in the newborn bassinette. Stuffed animals? Banned! Hats? Off after the first day! Extra blankets? No! Pillows? Never! Take a look at this super cute baby in Ohio: Cute Ohio Baby Safe Sleep

How to Practice Safe Sleep With Your Infant

We want our families to share our philosophy of safe sleep promotion and we show our babies love by keeping them safe. Parent and caregiver education is available at our partner site: Safe sleep academy. And here is the Cliff Notes version:

  • Your baby should sleep alone.
  • Your baby should always on their back.
  • Your baby should sleep in a crib.

We Are Here to Help You!

At the University of Vermont Medical Center, we teach the safe sleep guidelines consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics and The National Institute of Health. We have a robust prevention program and strive to deliver families clear, consistent and realistic information with the shared goal of prevention.

We also now provide a cribette—like a pack and play—to families who have no safe place for baby to sleep. Nurses will ask questions at admission about the sleep setting at home and distribute the cribs to families who need them. This is thanks to a generous grant from the Children’s Miracle Network and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Got questions?

We look forward to hearing from you at safesleep [at]

Further videos:

The UVM Children’s Hospital was recently designated as an official “Safe Sleep” Hospital and recognized with a Gold level designation from the Cribs for Kids Foundation. Cribs for Kids mission is to ensure caregivers are educated about safe sleep and every baby has a safe place to sleep. 

Kelly Borch and Sharon Schroeder are RNs on the Mother-Baby unit. They attended UVM School of Nursing and have worked together for 14 years. They are passionate about taking care of the new and growing families in our community. Contact them at safesleep [at] (safesleep[at]uvmhealth[dot]org).

 Stay Informed

Sign up to receive the latest stories, information and guidance from our experts on a wide variety of health topics.