After three infants died this year from suffocation, Robin Haldiman is hoping to make a change by stepping up educational efforts aimed at teaching parents about safe sleep practices for babies.
The three infants were all enrolled in Child Health Investment Partnership of Roanoke Valley, a program headed by Haldiman that is aimed at improving the health of medically underserved children in Roanoke.
The deaths were tragic, unintentional and unnecessary, Haldiman said.
Now, with a $20,000 state grant, Haldiman said CHIP will step up its efforts to prevent future infant deaths from suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Suffocation is the leading cause of infant deaths in the state, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Most suffocations occur because of unsafe sleep practices, Haldiman said, including parent’s sleeping with a baby in the same bed and putting the baby face down on a soft surface. Blankets can also pose a risk, she said.
The grant, which comes from the health department, will be used to purchase 60 Pack ‘N Plays and a number of blanket sleepers for infants enrolled in CHIP, Haldiman said. The collapsible, and portable, Pack ‘N Plays are a low-cost crib alternative for families that do not have a separate bed for an infant, Haldiman said.
Currently CHIP has about 130 pregnant moms and infants enrolled, and they will be the focus of the outreach, she said.
The idea is to provide infants with safe sleep environments. Additionally the grant will allow CHIP nurses and case managers to spend extra time working to teach parents about the risks of SIDS and infant suffocation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers information on safe sleep practices for infants.