Every two weeks in Bexar County, a baby dies.
That number is the highest in the state. The majority of deaths are attributed to unsafe sleep patterns or “co-sleeping,” when the baby sleeps with parents or a sibling. Babies can suffocate or be smothered while sleeping with bigger people.
A San Antonio hospital is taking a cue from Finland and offering “baby boxes” to new mothers. But what are they and how do they help keep babies safe?
Dr. Amy Quinn of University Health System in San Antonio says the baby boxes help new parents by providing supplies to care for a newborn, including a place to sleep.
“It actually comes with a firm mattress, which is what’s recommended for infants to sleep on,” Quinn says. “Its a space big enough to accommodate the baby to have a safe sleep environment up until three months of age.”
Right now, University Health System is testing the program with a hundred boxes handed out to new mothers in at-risk communities.
“We do serve a population that’s very much underserved in Bexar County, so we’re really trying to reach out to people that may not be able to afford a fancy crib,” Quinn says. “That’s the population we’re targeting to help provide some of these items and really educate parents on the benefits of a safe sleep environment.”
The hospitals will follow up with the recipients of the boxes to get feedback. If all goes well, Quinn says the hospital hopes to hand out more baby boxes in the future.
“Hopefully, with positive feedback we’ll be able to expand this project and really start targeting the zip codes in Bexar County that have the highest rates of infant deaths,” Quinn says. “And hopefully, eventually try to effect those numbers and bring them down.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.