The loss of a child is heartbreaking. Approximately 3,600 infants die every year from sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). In Pennsylvania, SUID claims the lives of one baby every four days.

To prevent and lower the risk of SUID, we developed the Safe Sleep Awareness for Every Well Newborn (SAFE) Program. We teach parents, grandparents and caregivers how to create a safe sleep environment for infants.

What Is Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID)?

SUID is the unexpected death of an infant under the age of one. The death typically occurs while a baby sleeps at night or during naptime.

Every baby is at risk for SUID, but premature infants (babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy), boys and Black babies are most at risk.

SUID includes:

  • Accidental suffocations or strangulations during sleep
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Unknown causes

About the Safe Sleep Awareness for Every Well Newborn (SAFE) Program

Except for suffocations and strangulations, experts don’t know what causes SUID. But we do know that certain sleep practices can reduce infant deaths. Studies also show that breastfeeding for even two months can cut the risk of SUID almost in half.

With the aid of a million-dollar grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, experts at the Pennsylvania Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) developed the SAFE Sleep Program.

The program first launched in Philadelphia in 2017. Today, medical centers across the state use the program to help prevent SUID. Learn more about the Pennsylvania SAFE Sleep Program.

The Penn Medicine SAFE Sleep Program: What to Expect

Every family who delivers at Penn hospitals participates in the SAFE Sleep Program. You can expect these actions before you head home with your newborn:

  • Education: A maternity nurse reviews safe infant sleep practices with your family. We welcome the opportunity to educate grandparents and caregivers, too.
  • Instruction: Your family watches a video with instructions about how to place your baby safely into a crib to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm surface, with nothing else in the crib or bassinet.
  • Sleep sack: We send you home with informational materials and an infant sleep sack. This one-piece wearable blanket is safer than a blanket, which can suffocate or strangle a baby. Learn more about SAFE Sleep guidelines.
  • Preparation: We’ll ask questions about your baby’s sleep environment. If you need a crib or bedding, we can help. We make sure all infants have a safe place to sleep when they go home.

Request an Appointment

To request an appointment, please call 800-789-7366 or complete our online form.

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