Safe Sleep Task Force has future plans for crib program

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- To co-sleep or not to co-sleep, it’s a hot button issue that every parent with a newborn thinks about. But health experts say it’s not whether you sleep with your baby, it’s how you do it.

The term “co-sleeping” can be confusing. It can refer to both sharing a bed and sharing a room. Over the weekend a 2-month-old boy in Milwaukee died while sleeping with family members on an air mattress. Police are investigating it as a possible co-sleeping death. According to the Milwaukee Health Department, each year an average of 15 infant deaths in the city are linked to unsafe sleeping environments.

But according to the new Safe Sleep Task Force in Eau Claire County, the risk isn’t limited to Milwaukee. It’s everywhere and the group wants to do something about it.

The Safe Sleep Task Force was started by the Eau Claire-City County Health Department this year. It says room sharing is the safest way to prevent SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the leading cause of death among infants.

The group’s mission is to educate parents and caregivers on safe sleep best practices for infants.

“They can have the child in the same room but we want to make sure they are on their own sleeping spot near the bed, so that would be in a crib or a bassinet,” said Public Health Nurse with the health department Patricia Reis, RN. She helped develop the task force.

Lisa Moelter is the Pedatric RN Coordinator for Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. She represents Mayo in the Safe Sleep Task Force. Moelter is also a new grandma.

“Being a grandparent for the first time, I think I'm more nervous being a grandmother than I was a parent,” joked Moelter.

Moelter showed us some easy ways to keep a baby safe in a pack n’ play. Tips like keeping the mattress tight, keeping blankets, quilts and stuffed animals out of the bed, making sure the baby is sleeping on his or her back and having a swaddler on the baby. She also said to make sure the baby is at a comfortable temperature. Whatever temperature you’re comfortable in at home is the same temperature the baby is comfortable in.

“It’s a passion of mine to save children’s lives and thesis going to save a lot of children’s lives,” said Moelter.

Reis said the Safe Sleep Task Force is made up of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, providers and agencies including Mayo Clinic Health System, Sacred Heart Hospital, UW-Health, Family Resource Center and UW-Extension.

“We always make sure that we tell parents that they should provide a safe sleeping environment for their infants,” said Reis. “If a person bed shares, that puts them at risk for suffocation because the blankets or the parent rolling onto the child.”

The Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin says remember the ABC’s of safe sleep:

But for some parents, Moelter said there are no options because of financial issues.

“They don’t have any other bed for the baby,” said Moelter.

That's why the Safe Sleep Task Force is working on a crib donation program for families in need. It’s a program that is in development stage and won’t launch until next year.

“We are looking at some time in the future, those needs and hopefully next year looking at parents who can't afford those products that we could provide, perhaps a pack ‘n play,” said Reis. “We want to reduce the incidence of SIDS and infant death by providing these products and educating that surrounds safe sleep and having a parent put their child in a safe sleep environment.”

More details will be revealed on the WEAU 13 News Today show at 10 a.m. next Tuesday.

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