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  • Jun

    Safe Sleep Coalition promotes safe sleep spaces for infants

    Posted by: Health and Human Services

    ​The Marion and Polk Infant Safe Sleep Coalition received a $50,000 Salem Health Partner Grant to fund evidence-based practices that are proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. Each year, the Marion-Polk region experiences preventable sleep related infant deaths. Although numbers are small, this is one of the greatest tragedies that parents and caregivers experience.

    The Oregon Health Authority's 2014 report Child Fatalities in Oregon, notes that 34 of 36 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths were sleep related. Education is a crucial foundation for this project as families either have safe sleep spaces but don't know how to use them properly, or do not have them at all.

    Infant safe sleep practices include:

    • Always place your baby "Back to Sleep."  Tell all caregivers that your baby sleeps on his/her back only.

    • Share the same bedroom during the infant's first year of life (but not the same bed).

    • Only baby goes in the crib; no toys, blankets or other items.

    • Provide tummy time while supervised.

    • A pacifier can be used once breastfeeding is established or after one month of age.

    • Keep room temperature between 65-71 degrees. Do not over-bundle your baby when sleeping.

    • Do not smoke in your house.

    • Do not leave children sleeping in a car seat or other infant seat. 

    • Do not cover car seats with a blanket or other materials.

    Grant funding has provided the coalition with the services of a part-time health educator, Hayden Barnes, who began supporting the coalition work in May. Hayden is a Salem native who graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Community Health Education. She is completing grant objectives that will ensure that the coalition has the necessary infrastructure to embed infant safe sleep messaging and support in Marion and Polk counties so the work continues regardless of future funding.   

    Ms. Barnes will be working with hospitals and agencies serving families expecting babies and parenting infants to develop a process to teach and model infant safe sleep. She will also be working to ensure that all families with infants have access to a safe sleeping environment which may include providing pack and play cribs or baby boxes to eligible families.

    Infant safe sleep will be folded in to the Marion and Polk Community Health Improvement Partnership and will be an ongoing part of the region's public health focus. The partnership is developing robust education materials so that early childhood professionals, medical professionals, parents and other caregivers have access to up-to-date evidence-based safe sleep information.

    Safe Sleep Coalition members include Marion County Health Department, Polk County Health Department, Salem Hospital, Santiam Hospital, Silverton Hospital, WVP Health Authority MOMS Program, Oregon Child Development Coalition, Marion & Polk County Early Learning Hub, Childcare Resource and Referral, Marion County Community Services, Community Action Head Start, Family Building Blocks and the Salem-Keizer Schools District Teen Parent Program.

    For more information about safe sleep practices or the Marion and Polk Infant Safe Sleep Coalition, contact the Marion County Health Department at (503) 588-5357 or email ​

    Safe Sleep Coalition promotes safe sleep spaces for infants
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