Morehouse General Hospital was recognized this past year as a 2013 Louisiana Safe Sleep Champion Hospital.

“We applaud your accomplishment in leading your staff to promote a safe sleeping environment for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens...” Amy Zapata, Director of Bureau of Family Health said in a letter to OB Coordinator for MGH Lori Lara.

The hospital has earned this recognition by participating in one of the Office of Public Health's initiatives aimed at reducing infant mortality in Louisiana and by adopting the 2011 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment in under a year. These recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics are meant to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths.

“...Your implementation of activities based on those guidelines in less than one year serves as a model of change for all delivering hospitals. Thank you for your commitment to protecting the lives of infants in our state,” Zapata continued in her letter.

Some of the guidelines the hospital is promoting for parents include the Safe Sleep Top Ten:

1.Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night. The back sleep position is the safest, and every sleep time counts.

2.Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.

3.Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area.

4.Do not allow smoking around your baby.

5.Keep your baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.

6.Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep, but don't force the baby to take it. If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until your child is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.

7.Do not let your baby overheat during sleep. Dress you baby in light sleep clothing, and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.

8.Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.

9.Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS.

10.Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby's head by providing “tummy time” when your baby is awake and someone is watching. Change the direction that your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next and avoid too much time in car seats, carriers and bouncers.

The Safe Sleep Top Ten is a part of the Back to Sleep Campaign. For more information about SIDS and Back to Sleep Campaign, call 1.800.505.2742.