photo of African American doctor with white baby

Healthcare providers play a pivotal role in an infant’s well-being after they leave the hospitals. Parents are more opt to replicate the practices that they see being practiced in the hospital setting. Modeling the correct practices is the most important aspect of your job.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz is asking for your help with this issue in this letter issued to all hospitals.

Educating Parents and Caregivers

Research has shown that one of the main reasons for parents not wanting to place infants on their backs for sleep is because of the fear of infant choking. Parents/caregivers incorrectly believe that an infant on its back is at greater risk of aspiration. Please feel free to download/laminate this image pptx format of Fear of Choking Graphic
docx format of                             Fear of Choking Graphic                to use when counseling parents, use it to explain points, using terminology that you can tailor as needed for parents:

  • In the supine (back) position, the infant’s trachea (“breathing tube”) lies above the esophagus (‘swallowing tube’).
  • If the infant regurgitates (‘spits up’, ‘throws up’), gravity is much more likely to prevent aspiration (“gravity is much more likely to cause it to roll back down the esophagus”)
  • In the prone (stomach) position, the trachea lies below the esophagus. In this position, if the infant regurgitates, gravity is more likely to cause it to flow into the trachea and possibly into the lungs.

New Online Curriculum for Nurses

FREE, UPDATED Continuing Education (CE) Activity on Risk Reduction for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death: Curriculum for Nurses.

Nurses who successfully complete the CE activity will earn 1.1 contact hours.


Resources for Creating an Infant Safe Sleep Policy or Standards

Here are resources to assist your hospital in developing a safe sleep policy, as well as educating parents and other care givers.

DPH Infant Safe Sleep Policy

In 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health developed a department-wide internal policy for all of its child-serving programs to follow with regard to infant safe sleep environments. The policy was unanimously endorsed by the State Child Fatality Review Team and all of the other state child-serving agencies began incorporating the policy into their own practices. The DPH Infant Safe Sleep Policy  pdf format of DPH Infant Safe Sleep Policy
docx format of                             DPH Infant Safe Sleep Policy                is based upon the most recent American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations. It is not intended to be used as a handout for parents and caregivers, it is provided here to be used as a reference or model policy by professional providers.

This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.