“The best choice for infants is to sleep on their backs in a tobacco-free environment, on a harder surface, in a space clear of blankets, pillows or other items like stuffed toys,” says Dr. Charmaine Enns, a Medical Health Officer at Island Health.
Baby beds have drastically lowered Finland’s infant mortality rate – now one of the lowest in the world at 1.8 per 1,000 babies as compared to Canada (3.0 per 1,000) and Vancouver Island (3.9 per 1,000).
“We all want to avoid a tragic event involving infants,” Dr. Enns said. “Baby beds give infants clear breathing passages, putting them in the best position to get a safe and healthy sleep.”
According to the Coroners Service, infant deaths due to unsafe sleep practices are on the rise in B.C. Over the past three years, there have been, on average, 18 sleep-related deaths per year. In the first four months of 2016, a total 15 babies have died. Almost all were younger than six months of age.
Today, all new and expecting parents in Port Alberni and the West Coast communities including Tofino and Ucluelet are eligible to pick up a free baby bed at their local health unit.
The baby beds also include supplies for mom and babe: a digital thermometer, lanolin nipple cream, washcloths and diapers, among other useful items.
This new initiative was made possible thanks to the support and generosity of the West Coast General Hospital (WCGH) Foundation and Auxiliary.
“By investing in future generations, we are making a difference in the lives of families in Port Alberni and our West Coast communities,” said Ed Francoeur, Chair of the WCGH Foundation which has donated upwards of $16,000 to the project so far.
The WCGH Auxiliary contributed an additional $10,000 to bring the initiative to the Valley.
“Our community is very enthusiastic about bringing this important project to Alberni and the West Coast,” said Auxiliary CEO Roberta Jansen. “We are pleased that the baby beds are now available so we can begin that important conversation about safe sleep in infancy.”
More information about the Baby Bed program can be found by calling the Port Alberni Health Unit at 250-731-1315.
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