Safe Sleep Program focuses on infant safety

Laura Lash |

A new Safe Sleep Program is being launched by the Eau Claire County Infant Safe Sleep Task Force. Spearheaded by Brook Berg, family living educator at UW-Extension, the task force is a select group of one dozen conscientious community members from our local family advocacy organizations: Mayo Clinic Health System, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, the Family Resource Center, Child Care Partnership, and the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. 

Modeled after a national program named Cribs for Kids, Berg and company are hoping to reduce the number of infant deaths attributed to poor family sleep practices. “We know through work with collaborative partners that many families in our area do not practice infant safe sleep for various reasons,” she said. “Two of those reasons are lack of funding to purchase a crib, and lack of education about the importance and procedures of safe sleep.”

Berg further elaborated on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control statistics supporting their endeavor: “SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the leading cause of death for infants age one month to one year, and claims the lives of nearly 1,600 infants each year. In addition, there are up to 1,900 sudden, unexpected infant deaths such as accidental suffocation and strangulation each year in the U.S.”

The Eau Claire City-County Health Department served as the fiscal agent when the group applied for grants; $6,000 worth was recently awarded in combination from the Women’s Giving Circle, a fund of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, and the Ann Marie Foundation. The task force has been working on identifying the needs of our community and writing grants to fund these needs for the past two years, and will continue to raise funds toward education about and promotion of safe sleep practices.

Their current funding provided for the purchase of 50 Graco Pack ’N Play Playards and 100 sleep sacks (wearable blankets for infants and toddlers). A toolkit of written materials has been created to educate the public and will be distributed to recipients of the baby items, as well as to Eau Claire community members and medical providers.

Recipients will be Eau Claire County residents currently enrolled in a government assistance program who are parents to newborns younger than six months old. The parent will then have a follow-up visit from a nurse/home visitor representative to answer any questions and evaluate the effectiveness of the program. The distributing agencies include the Family Resource Center, UW-Extension, and the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.


Medical officials don’t know the exact causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, the Centers for Disease Control advises taking these steps to reduce the risk of SIDS:

• Always place babies on their backs to sleep for every sleep.

• Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.

• Keep soft objects, such as pillows and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.

• Have the baby share your room, not your bed. Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.

• Prevent exposure to smoking during pregnancy and after birth because these are important risk factors for SIDS.

To learn more, contact Brook Berg of UW-Extension at (715) 839-4712.