Birthing Hospitals Poised to Help Every Baby Sleep Safe in Colorado

Birthing Hospitals Poised to Help Every Baby Sleep Safe in Colorado

Many years ago, hospitals weren’t required to ensure that new babies went home in a car seat. That simple act of normalizing car seat safety as infants leave the hospital and head home with new, and often overwhelmed, parents and caregivers has no doubt saved countless lives. Today, hospitals can play a similarly crucial role in helping every baby sleep safe.


It’s as Easy as ABC

More than 61,000 babies are born in Colorado every year.1 Those first days and months are full of joy and stress for every family, so it’s important that each baby is surrounded by parents, family, friends, neighbors, licensed and unlicensed child care providers, health care professionals and communities working to create environments for infants to thrive and sleep safely.

Health care providers and hospital staff are sources of trusted information for new parents and have a critical opportunity to help families thrive, even after a family has left the hospital, by focusing on safe sleep in these precious first few days together.

And the ABC’s of safe sleep are simple and easy: babies should be Alone on their Backs and in a Crib. This means that babies should sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface, separate from adults or others, without any bumpers, soft bedding or stuffed toys.     

Birthing Hospitals Are the First Step

Birthing hospitals play a critical role in teaching new parents and caregivers what safe sleep practices look like–so much so that, in the Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System’s most recent annual legislative report, one of the recommendations made following the review of child fatalities in Colorado was to support policies that expand education, modeling and discharge safety screening in birthing hospitals.

According to the report, at least six states require hospitals and health care providers to give parents and caregivers educational materials and information on infant safe sleep practices within health care settings, during a hospital stay or at discharge.2,3 The depth and breadth of safe sleep practices and policies at Colorado’s birthing hospitals is not widely or easily known.

Hospitals have multiple options for demonstrating their commitment to safe sleep in practice:

Shifting Practice through Cribs for Kids

For hospitals looking for a straightforward place to start, the Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program may be the best fit. Hospitals participating in this no-cost program receive resources and support in drafting safe sleep policies for their organization, training for all health care providers in safe sleep, safe sleep educational materials for families and caregivers, support for modeling safe sleep in all settings (labor and delivery, NICUs, etc.), and messaging around safe sleep in alignment with the AAP’s recommendations.

Cribs for Kids also provides a step-by-step hospital certification toolkit that guides organizations through certification requirements at the bronze, silver or gold levels depending on their commitments, policies and practices related to infant safe sleep. Of all the hospitals in Colorado, only one is currently certified by Cribs for Kids: Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, which is certified at the gold level.4

Certification programs like Cribs for Kids are just a start for shifting practice and addressing families’ needs. For long term changes in practice, ongoing support and accountability–such as through a quality improvement approach–are needed to sustain change. Additionally, input from families, especially around considerations for cultural responsiveness, linguistic accessibility and social and economic needs, is needed to develop hospital efforts that truly work for Colorado families.

While the first few days at a hospital are only one part of a new or expanding family’s safe sleep journey, Colorado has an opportunity–and an obligation–to shift practice in order to give our families the strongest and safest start possible.

Get Involved in October--and Beyond

>> October is Safe Sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. Illuminate has put together some of our favorite resources to help community members and organizations alike raise awareness about this important topic, but it will take a sustained effort far beyond this month to create safe sleep for every baby everywhere in Colorado. 

>> Click HERE to learn more about the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership‘s mission to support families, providers, organizations and policymakers to increase infant safe sleep practices and address related barriers and disparities through education, practice change and systems improvement.

>> Sign up to receive our safe sleep newsletter to receive more updates on this important work and ideas for parents, caregivers, organizations and communities to create safe sleep for every baby everywhere.   

  1. Colorado Health Information Dataset (CoHID), Live Birth Statistics, Counts, 2020 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment retrieved on August 2021 from 
  2. The Network for Public Health Law. (2017). SUID Prevention, Infant Safe Sleep Law Table: Legal Provisions Relating to SUID Prevention in 5 States. Research conducted for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. To access:
  3. Child Fatality Prevention System. (2021). Child Fatality Prevention System Annual Legislative Report. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 41-42.
  4. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). (2015). Sudden unexpected infant death legislation.

Related Posts

New Federal Safety Standard for Infant Sleep Products Help Make Smart Choices to Keep Kids Safe

New Federal Safety Standard for Infant Sleep Products Help Make Smart Choices to Keep Kids Safe

When you walk into any store to buy something for a new baby on the way, you assume that the products on the shelves are safe, but those who’ve spent some time learning about safe sleep recommendations and guidelines know that isn’t the case when it comes to infant sleep products. Earlier this month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the approval of a new federal rule to ensure products marketed or intended for infant sleep will provide a safe sleep environment for babies under 5 months old. Beginning in mid-2022, any product intended or marketed for infant sleep must meet a federal safety standard—a requirement that does not exist today. 

The new mandatory standard will effectively eliminate potentially hazardous sleep products in the marketplace that do not currently meet a CPSC mandatory standard for infant sleep, such as inclined sleepers, travel and compact bassinets, and in-bed sleepers, which have been linked to dozens of infant deaths. Popular products formerly referred to as “inclined sleep products” include several styles that have been recalled over the years. In fact, just this week, Fisher-Price announced a recall of thousands of baby soothers, gliders after 4 infant deaths, including one baby from Colorado.  

“This change will be historic and save lives in Colorado,” said Kate Jankovsky, childhood adversity prevention manager with the Violence and Injury Prevention-Mental Health Promotion Branch of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and member of the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership. “This will make it easier for all consumers to buy, use and give infant sleep products as gifts. Today, many people are unknowingly buying products known to be unsafe for an infant to sleep.” 

The lack of regulation of infant sleep products and the abundance of unsafe sleep objects and devices manufactured and sold throughout the United States has frustrated advocates, health care professionals and parents who have lost children, alike, for years. Dr. Sunah S. Hwang, the Lula O. Lubchenco Chair in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Perinatal Health Services Research with the University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Section of Neonatology, highlighted the need for action by the Commission in The Call to Translate Data Into Action to Prevent Infant Death published just last month. Stating “[a]lthough states such as Ohio, Maryland, and New York have banned
the sale of unsafe items such as crib bumpers, these soft bedding objects continue to be manufactured,
marketed, and sold. The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously in 2020 to proceed with developing a federal safety rule that would ban the sale of crib bumpers that limit airflow. We eagerly await
the results of the federal rulemaking process.” Hwang highlighted the fact that

of SUID cases categorized as “explained” or “unexplained–possible suffocation,” 74% of airway obstructions were due to soft bedding. In short, 1145 infants may have survived their first year of life had soft bedding not been used during their sleep.”

Later this year, the Commission expects to consider federal safety standards for crib bumpers and crib mattresses. CPSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long warned of the dangers of bed-sharing or co-sleeping. The new rule does not take any action against bed-sharing without sleep products. Instead, it shifts responsibility to manufacturers to assist parents who want to bed-share, by requiring them to produce only products that are safe to do so. The new rule also does not extend to items that are expressly not intended or marketed for infant sleep, such as swings and car seats.


As a reminder, the safest place for a baby to sleep is a flat, bare surface dedicated to the infant. The Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership is actively recruiting members interested in getting involved to support families, providers, organizations and policymakers to increase infant safe sleep practices and address related barriers and disparities, through education, practice change and systems improvement. 

Think You Won’t Fall Asleep? Think Again: Infant Safe Sleep and the Impact of Substance Use

Think You Won’t Fall Asleep? Think Again: Infant Safe Sleep and the Impact of Substance Use

Few things are more exhausting than a new baby. Increased infant crying, perhaps a few older children to care for, and trying to get back to work after a few short weeks all result in very, very tired caregivers.


October is Safe Sleep Awareness month. There has been a great deal of information shared this month around what a safe sleep crib looks like. And although it can sound a bit boring, ensuring cribs are free of objects which could lead to suffocation is worth the mental shift from “cute” to “safe”. Talking with all the family and friends who come in contact with baby about safe sleep practices is important to ensure even good-willed intentions do not lead to tragedy.

Adding Substance Use to the Mix

Imagine the last time you were beyond tired. Maybe you found yourself dozing off driving to or from work. Maybe you fell asleep watching a movie you actually wanted to see. Or maybe that last zoom call was just too long to handle. Sometimes our bodies take over even when we have every intention to stay awake.

Now take a moment and imagine adding substances that can lead to additional depression of the body’s ability to function, like alcohol, marijuana, some over the counter and prescription medications, and illicit substances. When contemplating the use of substances with a newborn in the home (separate from breastfeeding risks and substance use) it is important to be extra vigilant in ensuring your baby has a safe place to sleep.


Caregiving of an infant is exhausting. Falling asleep when feeding a baby on a couch or in bed is not uncommon for a tired caregiver. The impacts and side effects of many common substances increases the risk of positional overlay, which is when a caregiver accidentally rolls over on a baby in bed or on a couch or large chair, suffocating the infant. If you are thinking right now you would totally wake up if you rolled over on a baby, remember the times noted above. You didn’t mean to fall asleep, but you did. And if a caregiver is exhausted, and impacted by substance use, whether they were feeding the baby, or in bed with a baby and an additional caregiver, the risk of positional overlay or entrapment increases. And sleeping on a couch with a baby increases the risk even more, especially when substances are involved.

Increasing Safety in Sleeping Environments

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are several ways to increase safety in sleeping environments, including:

  • Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night. 
  • Use a firm sleep surface. 
  • Room share—keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year. 
  • Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort.
  • Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
  • Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies. However, certain situations make bed-sharing even more dangerous. Therefore, you should not bed share with your baby if:
    • Your baby is younger than 4 months old.
    • Your baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight.
    • You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if you do not smoke in bed).
    • The mother of the baby smoked during pregnancy.
    • You have taken any medicines or drugs that might make it harder for you to wake up.
    • You drank any alcohol.
    • You are not the baby’s parent.
    • The surface is soft, such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.
    • There is soft bedding like pillows or blankets on the bed.
  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area. 
  • It is fine to swaddle your baby. 
  • Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. 

For more detailed descriptions of the above information, visit A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sleep.

You Are Not Alone

Being a caregiver for a newborn is exhausting. If you are a parent or caregiver reading this, know you are not alone and that feeling exhausted is normal. It will pass. You will find a new pattern and chances to catch up on sleep over the next few years. Following safe sleep practices now, including limiting substance use, and creating and using safe sleep environments, can reduce the risk of SUIDS and the risks of positional overlay. Reach out to parent groups, family or your community for support. Raising children is beyond hard!

For more information on resources to help provide safe sleep environments, call 1-800-CHILDREN, 2-1-1, or your local health department. For more information on finding support from other parents, visit

Spread the Word about Safe Infant Sleep

Spread the Word about Safe Infant Sleep

To help raise awareness about safe infant sleep during Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month in October, we’re inviting you to participate in a fun and friendly photo activity called #SafeSleepSnap.

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles—anyone can participate by sharing a photo of a baby in a safe sleep area on their social media accounts. Make sure you use the hashtag #SafeSleepSnap so everyone can see the adorable pictures of babies in safe sleep areas.

(Not sure what a safe sleep area looks like? Check out this page for details.)

Here are the specifics:

  1. Post a photo of your baby, grandbaby, niece, or nephew in or next to a safe sleep area on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
  2. Use the hashtag #SafeSleepSnap in the post. This is how we’ll know you participated!
  3. Give yourself kudos for taking part in #SafeSleepSnap and helping raise awareness about safe infant sleep.

Be creative! Practicing safe infant sleep can be fun. Creativity and humor are encouraged in the photos and captions, as long as the baby’s sleep area follows safe sleep recommendations. This album  includes examples you can use as inspiration.

This is your opportunity to both show off your cutie and help other caregivers see that safe infant sleep can be fun! Illuminate Colorado is proud to serve in a convening role for the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership (ISSP), whose mission is to support families, providers, organizations and policymakers to increase infant safe sleep practices and address related barriers and disparities, through education, practice change, and systems improvement. We will also be posting #SafeSleepSnap photos on our accounts throughout October. Please like the photos, retweet them, and share them with your friends and followers.

We look forward to seeing your #SafeSleepSnap!

For our organizational and community partners, we encourage you to use the Safe to Sleep Campaign’s #SafeSleepSnap Digital Toolkit to help raise awareness around infant safe sleep practices. In this toolkit, you can find resources for family-serving professionals and providers, as well as for caregivers and families! Resources are available in English and Spanish, and in a variety of user-friendly formats, including videos, infographics, and interactive tools.

Visit the Safe to Sleep website to explore information and resources, and to find out more about the campaign and toolkit.

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