Modernizing the baby blanket

In the not too distant past, babies would sleep in their cribs with several blankets and numerous toys nearby to keep them company. Nowadays, however, there is a different method, where the baby wears one blanket and there are no toys in the crib.

This new type of blanket, called the Halo SleepSack, is a blanket that the baby wears that cannot be kicked off and that replaces loose blankets in the crib, which can cover a baby’s face and interfere with breathing. The SleepSack promotes safer sleeping and decreases the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS is marked by the sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year that remains unexplained even after a complete autopsy, a death scene investigation and a thorough review of the clinical history as conducted. Included in the possible risk factors of SIDS are excesses of bedding, clothing, soft sleep surfaces or stuffed animals.

According to Lisa Holtzclaw, director of Women’s and Children’s Services for Trinity Health, the SleepSack was developed by William Schmid, after losing a child to SIDS in 1991. From that tragedy, Halo and its mission was started, she continued. Since 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested the use of wearable blankets, Holtzclaw said.

All babies born at Trinity Hospital are clothed in the SleepSack. Holtzclaw said healthy babies wear cream-colored SleepSacks, while babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit wear sage green SleepSacks. The SleepSack issued by Trinity is returned when babies are sent home with their parents, she explained, but a blue or pink SleepSack with the Trinity logo is sent home with the parents.

Holtzclaw said the Trinity Health Foundation supported the initial investment to purchase the SleepSacks. The funds also came from the Golden K Kiwanis Fund, she added, to support the health care needs of children.

Halo SleepSacks are sold in stores or online at ( and are available in either cotton or fleece.

SleepSacks have been in use at Trinity since mid-May. Holtzclaw noted. Trinity is the first hospital in central North Dakota to use them. Only one other hospital in North Dakota has been using SleepSacks.

There are some definite benefits to using Halo SleepSacks. “They reduce excess bedding and clothing and they provide a safe sleep environment,” Holtzclaw said. Loose blankets can impair a baby’s breathing, she added.

Holtzclaw said she and the other nurses educate parents on how to place their baby to sleep. It’s recommended that babies sleep on their back with no toys or bumpers in the crib. They also really encourage parents to control the air temperature in their house instead of using a lot of blankets, she added.

“If you’re comfortable, the baby is comfortable,” she said.

“We find that by educating families on safe sleep (for babies) that they’ll continue at home,” Holtzclaw said.

North Dakota does not have a high infant mortality rate, Holtzclaw noted. Between 2006 and 2008, there was an infant mortality rate of 6.4 percent, while nationwide it was 6.7 percent.

“Parents love the SleepSacks,” Holtzclaw remarked. “We haven’t heard one negative response from them.”