HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to host baby safety class focused on safe sleep

Lori Winkler, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator for Safe Kids St. Louis at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital (Submitted Photo)

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the Pregnancy Care Center are hosting a baby safety course on Monday, April 22, presented by SSM Health Cardinal Glennon.

Lori Winkler, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator for Safe Kids St. Louis at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, said the two-hour baby safety class teaches caregivers the importance of safe sleep for infants. 

Winkler said while the class is primarily for underserved populations, anybody can register for the class. Winkler said the class is targeted toward prenatal mothers who are preparing for the arrival of their child as well as fathers, grandparents and infant guardians. 

At the class, caregivers will receive a bag of safety items, a folder with educational information about caring for your infant and a Pack ’n Play (some restrictions apply).

The baby safety class is funded through a grant Cardinal Glennon has from Kohl’s Cars and is free to all of the mothers and caregivers attending. 

“I do these classes all over Missouri, St. Clair County and Madison County,” Winkler said. “I like to get [mothers] in the pre-natal stage because we like for them to be prepared instead of when they are in the hospital and saying how they don’t have a car seat or that the baby would have to sleep with them,” Winkler said. 

Per guidelines for sleep safety for infants, Winkler said babies should never sleep in a bed with an individual. She noted Pack ’n Plays are the “gold standard recommendation” for sleeping infants. 

“With a Pack ’n Play, it will fit in the same room as parents,” Winkler said. She said the baby should be in the same room with its parents for the first six month of life up to the first year. 

“Never are they to be in the same bed with anyone,” she stressed. 

“A lot of parents will get bassinets but the problem there is that the bassinets are only going to last that mom for about the first couple of months and then the baby gets too big for it,” she said. “The peak time when babies are at most risk for dying from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is two to four months.”

Winkler said in some households, babies may outgrow their safe sleep environment at a critical age and with limited resources available — babies may wind up in the bed with a parent. 

Another benefit to Pack ’n Plays, according to Winkler, is that they are portable. 

Because a lot of parents are moving from place to place or have another family member watching their baby, Pack ’n Plays offer flexibility. 

Winkler said those attending the baby safety classes may vary from first time parents to those on government assistance with limited resources available to them. 

“I will never turn someone away that states they do not have a safe place for their baby to sleep,” Winkler said. 

Winkler said infant mortality rate is very high nationwide. “Nationwide, about 3600 babies will die under the age of one year old from a sleep related death,” she said. Sleep related deaths includes SIDS and also accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. 

“About 1575 babies will have the cause of death listed as SIDS — that means over 2000 of these babies are dying from something that is preventable,” Winkler said. “That’s suffocation.” 

The baby safety classes also focus on child passenger safety, poison prevention, home safety and gun safety. 

“If anyone has a firearm and does not have a lock, we have gun locks available that we will provide them at no cost,” she said. 

Winkler said an important takeaway from the baby safety class that all parents should know is that infants should always sleep alone, on their backs, in an approved sleep environment. 

The baby safety class, in partnership with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, will take place April 22 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Belleville Health Center fourth floor education room at 180 S. Third Street. 

Registration is required by April 11. You can sign up at the Pregnancy Care Center or call 314-268-2700 ext. 1309 and leave name and phone number to confirm your reservation.