Linking Families and Communities donates SleepSacks to birthing centers

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Newborn Ezra Peterson sleeps cozy in the HALO SleepSack Swaddle from Linking Families and Communities. The organization is providing the SleepSacks for every baby born at UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center and Stewart Memorial Hospital for at least the next two years, executive director Elizabeth Stanek said.

When it comes to safely laying your little one down to sleep, experts say “back is best” and warn of the dangers of excessive bedding.

That’s why Linking Families and Communities has partnered with two local hospitals to send new parents home with a HALO SleepSack swaddle for every baby born in an effort to promote safe sleep and provide resource information to parents.

On Wednesday, LFC Executive Director Elizabeth Stanek delivered the first few boxes of the SleepSacks to the Birth Center at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center. The SleepSacks will also be delivered to the labor and delivery unit at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital in Lake City.

“I remember being that mom a long time ago, with the baby who would not sleep — and that was before swaddling was a huge thing and we didn’t have these,” Stanek said. “I’m excited to be able to help families at home and help new moms and dads get some rest and make sure their baby stays safe.”

The SleepSacks swaddle the baby in a sort of sleeping bag with arm holes. The parent can leave the baby’s arms free, or swaddle them in with the sides of the garment. The SleepSacks keep the baby warm while they sleep on their back, free of hazards posed by excessive bedding.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
OB/GYN Nurse Becky Yunginger demonstrates wrapping newborn Ezra Peterson in a HALO SleepSack Swaddle at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Regional Medical Center on Wednesday.

Newborn Ezra Peterson, son of Pam Speck and Andrew Peterson, was the first to try out the new SleepSack — just hours after he was born, a nurse swaddled him up so he could have a cozy snooze.

This is a project that the hospital and LFC have been working on for almost a year, TRMC OB/Pediatrics Manager Jill Niemeyer-Clark said.

“It’s an opportunity to send our babies home with the tools they need to sleep safely,” she said.

Safe sleeping practices are much needed, Niemeyer-Clark said.

“There’s a lot of people who go home and they don’t have a safe sleep environment for their babies,” she said. “People put their babies in water beds, they put them on fluffy baby blankets, sheepskin pillows, all those kinds of things, which can be detrimental and have shown an increase in the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Linking Families and Communities Executive Director Elizabeth Stanek, third from left, poses with UnityPoint Health -- Trinity Regional Medical Center Birth Center staff with the HALO SleepSack Swaddles the organization is donating to the hospital.

Along with the SleepSack — at no cost to the families — new parents will receive a card with information about resources around the region and state that can help families with young children.

“There are a lot of high-needs families, and they’ll get referred to lots of programs, but there’s a lot of families that fall through the cracks,” Stanek said. “But they could certainly use some assistance.”

For this initial partnership, Stanek ordered around 1,600 SleepSacks to distribute at the two hospitals. She said she thinks those will last about two years, but she hopes to continue the collaboration on safe sleeping for infants and possibly order more.


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