Newborns at Mercy Hospital Washington get swaddled in a new kind of blanket, and one that experts say gives babies a safer sleep.

“It works similar to a sleeping bag and it also swaddles, to keep babies safe, warm and soothed,” said Nicki Harriman, a registered nurse in the maternal child department.

“The added benefit is that it doesn’t come loose while they’re sleeping like a traditional blanket, and that keeps babies safe.”

In recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its safe sleep guidelines to suggest the use of wearable blankets instead of loose blankets as a way to help reduce the risk of accidental suffocation and decrease the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) deaths and Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID).

“We teach new parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs, in an empty crib or bassinet, no pillows, blankets or other items that could cause injury,” said Chandra Alsop, nurse manager for the Mercy Childbirth Center at Mercy Hospital Washington.

The experts in the childbirth center also caution against leaving babies to sleep in their swaddled blankets because they can become loose. Alsop said the SleepSack stays snug and safe.

Lauren Buel, Union, used the SleepSack on her newborn son Samuel at Mercy Hospital Washington. The second-time mom was impressed.

“The receiving blanket didn’t stay on him very well. This seems to confine him more and he really seems to like it.”

About 800 babies are born each year at Mercy Hospital Washington. Babies are now given a HALO SleepSack to sleep in at the hospital and are given one to take home, along with a packet of information for new parents about important safe sleep practices. Additional SleepSacks are available for purchase in the hospital’s gift shop for $15.

More than 900 hospitals across the country are using HALO SleepSack wearable blankets in their neonatal units and nurseries, gifting them to new moms and selling the product in hospital gift shops. A percentage of all HALO SleepSack product sales go directly to First Candle/SIDS Alliance and the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths. HALO Innovations has a singular mission: to help babies sleep safely. HALO Innovations was founded in 1994 by William Schmid, who began researching sleeping environments after he lost an infant daughter to SIDS.