A new education toolkit has been launched to help service providers discuss safe infant sleep practices with First Nations and Aboriginal families and help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexplained death in infancy (SUDI).
The toolkit, Honouring Our Babies: Safe Sleep Cards & Guide, is interactive, evidence-informed, and incorporates cultural beliefs, practices, and issues specific to First Nations and Aboriginal communities. The toolkit includes a deck of 21 discussion cards and seven illustrated cards that can be used to prompt and guide discussions with families about safe infant sleep as well as a facilitator’s guide with more information on each card’s topic, research, resources, and graphics. The toolkit is based on the Safe Sleep Environment for Infants 0-12 Months Guideline developed by Perinatal Services BC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.
SIDS is the death of a baby under one year of age, which is sudden, unexpected, and without a clear cause. SIDS usually happens during sleep or napping and is the most common cause of death in babies between the ages of one month and one year.
Research shows that Aboriginal babies in B.C. were four times more likely to die from SIDS than non-Aboriginal babies. In response, a special working group was formed among the First Nations Health Authority, Government of Canada, and the Government of BC, with input from First Nations and Aboriginal Elders, community members, and content experts, to develop a culturally appropriate safe sleep training initiative that could be incorporated into existing programs and services.
Honouring our Babies: Safe Sleep Cards & Guide can be used by anyone who would like to to discuss safe infant sleep with First Nations and Aboriginal parents and families. The toolkit can be downloaded from the First Nations Health Authority website at www.fnha.ca under the Maternal and Child Health section.
The most important ways to create a safe sleep place for your baby are to:
1. Place your baby on his/her back to sleep.
2. Ensure a smoke-free environment while pregnant and after your baby is born.
3. Place your baby to sleep in the same room for the first six months (on a separate safe sleep surface). Adult mattresses are too soft for babies to sleep safely on.
4. Breastfeed your baby. It helps protect against SIDS/SUDI.
5. Ensure your baby does not overheat while sleeping (do not use toques or hats indoors, heavy blankets, or swaddling).
6. Place your baby to sleep on a firm surface that is free of hazards. Waterbeds, adult mattresses, couches, recliners and sheepskins are not firm enough for baby to sleep safely. Loose blankets, pillows, and toys should not be in your baby’s sleep area.
7. Ensure the crib, cradle, bassinet, or other sleep equipment meeds the safety standards in the Crib and Cradle Regulations. Cribs made before September 1986 do not meet the standards and should not be used.
For more information, visit www.perinatalservicesbc.ca, www.phsa.ca or www.fnha.ca.