Hospital Discharge Legislation

New Jersey should be applauded for pending bill A1355 requiring hospitals and birthing facilities to provide new parents information about crib safety. Also, many thanks to our myriad supporters in helping to get this new law passed. None of our work gets done without you.

Current law requires that when a new baby is born, parents are required by doctors and other hospital personnel, to be certain that the baby has a car safety seat to be put in before they can be discharged from the hospital. This is great legislation, which ensures the babies’ first travel out of the hospital will be safe. However, once the baby is home, the baby is likely to spend most of his or her hours of the day sleeping in a crib – especially for the first year. Not driving in a car. By adopting this legislation – A1355 – hospitals and birthing facilities will be required to provide parents with informational literature regarding crib safety, including information about product recalls, federal standards on manufacture and sale of cribs and information from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission regarding how to keep babies safe in cribs, bassinets and play yards. New Jersey families will now be knowledgeable about safe sleep practices.

At Keeping Babies Safe, we feel that knowledge is the most important factor in keeping our babies safe. The crib is the only place we leave our babies unattended. Far too often, babies come home and are put in cribs that are unsafe. They may be broken, they may be old and unstable, they may have been recalled… they may be second-hand cribs that are now being used in an unsafe manner. Parents likely will have no idea about whether the crib handed to them is safe and just because they are told that “it worked and was safe” for the prior baby that slept in it… but experience tells us that doesn’t make it safe for their baby. Requiring some hospitals and birthing facilities to provide information to new parents will – like requiring car seats – provide the new parent with key information in helping them provide their baby with a safe sleep environment. Keeping Babies Safe, along with the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a DVD entitles “Safe Sleep for Babies” that goes over all of the critical safe sleep facts.

In addition, arming new parents with the best safe sleep advice will actually help make other legislation — both state and federal — more effective. Today, second-hand stores and consignment shops continue to grow, particularly in today’s unstable economy.  Recent federal legislation makes it illegal to sell unsafe cribs that don’t meet federal standards. The legislation speaks to the sellers of this merchandise. What is required to make legislation work is legislation that speaks to the USERS of the crib – the new parents. By informing the new parents of what is safe and what is not, we are providing parents with critical information so that they can make knowledgeable decisions about where and how to put their baby to sleep. As importantly, they will know WHERE to get this critical information. By adopting legislation requiring hospitals and healthcare workers to provide crib and sleep safety information to new parents, legislation ALREADY ENACTED, will be more effective.

We applaud Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt on proposing this legislation.

Please consider writing a letter to your Senator encouraging he/she to introduce a bill similar to New Jersey’s A1355 requiring hospitals and birthing facilities to provide new parents information about crib safety. The sample letter in the left column of this page can be used as a guide. Locate your Senator’s name here:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm