Swaddling Out, Sleep Sacks in For Babies

By Chris Earl, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa,- Baby blankets are now a thing of the past at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. Instead, Mercy Birthplace is replacing them with baby sleep sacks.

A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that's kind of like a baby version of a snuggie. Mercy Medical Center Director Linda Klein says the whole point of this is to keep babies safer.

"The sleep sack is one piece and the two wings just wrap around the side of the baby to keep them nice and safe," Klein said.

Experts say there is a real movement to remove every item from the crib -- and a loose blanket could be one of those items that can hinder breathing. 87 infants died from SIDS last year in Iowa.

"Everything should be removed from the crib -- teddy bears, stuffed animals, bumper pads should be removed because they can impede the breathing and become a danger to a child," Klein added.

Hospitals seems to agree the wearable blankets are helpful. All but eight Iowa hospitals are now sending babies home in sleep sacks instead of blankets -- including both Mercy and St. Luke's in Cedar Rapids.

Valerie and Jason Faust, of Cedar Rapids, just welcomed their second daughter on Monday, seven pound Reagan. When they left the hospital they had a sleep sack instead of a blanket.

The Faust family actually knows a family who recently lost a child to SIDS, so safety is important to them.

Stopping this deadly but often unpredictable situation is why there is less swaddling in the traditional blankets -- even for Jason, the father, who's wife admits he was a great swaddler of their first child.

Directions come inside the blanket for those unfamiliar with how a sleep sack works. The wearable blankets come in all different sizes. Doctors say children should use them during their first year.
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