Sleepsacks and SIDS

SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome is a fatal unexplained condition that usually occurs in a small percentage of seemingly healthy babies while sleeping. Infants between the ages of one and 12 months are susceptible with the greatest risk being between the ages of 2- 4 months. The cause is still difficult to define although several risk factors have been identified. Sadly, the incidence of SIDS is three times higher in Native American children than in white children. Much research has determined ways to diminish this risk. Healthy Start, Pine Ridge Hospital Obstetrics unit and Public Health nurses are educating women on the SIDS risk and encouraging women to implement the guidelines of the Back To Sleep Campaign. Since the Back to Sleep campaign began in the US the overall number of SIDS deaths has decreased by 50% in the general population.

Poverty poses a lot of problems for  families with babies, especially where the winters are very cold as is the case on the Rez. Houses are poorly insulated and utility bills often cannot be paid with their meager incomes so babies cannot be kept warm enough without blankets and layers. Unfortunately blankets can cover babies mouths and nose during the night increasing the risk of SIDS. An alternative to blankets are sleepsacks which are essentially a wearable blanket. Sleepsacks cost more than most moms on the Rez can afford. Here’s where Sew For Kids can help. Please put your sewing skills to use by making low-cost wearable blankets. Details below:

In the winter months they can be worn over layered clothing such as a onsie, warm sleeper and sweater . In summer a light cotton sleepsack over a summer sleeper  or a onsie and diaper  is all that is needed. In the fall and spring a fleece sleepsack will suffice over warm sleepers . See blankets to make in blog.  Blankets should be used only when babies are supervised -awake or asleep.

Here are a few patterns for making the sleepsack. Pattern one,two,three . See sewing comments about making sleepsacks . I made sleepsacks

out of fleece using one of my grandkids’ outifts as a pattern and used snaps at the shoulders and an elastic at the bottom to allow for easy diaper changes. I avoided the zipper as zippers and I have had some serious run ins! (or zip-ins, HA!). You could also make the bottom accessible by making the back piece longer, fold it over to the front  and hold it in place with a few snaps, mainly in the larger sizes. Or you could put a zipper across the bottom of the sack or just snap the bottom. In the next blog you can see how one of our readers makes hers.

Healthy Start and Pine Ridge Hospital Obstetrics Unit can use sleepsacks to give out to moms when they educate them about SIDS.  And if you make some, send us a photo before you mail them. Why not throw in a pacifier or two as pacifiers may play a role in prevention of SIDS?


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