A baby bed, which was developed in Finland and reduces incidences of infant mortality, is being provided to new mothers in the Cowichan Valley and on the West Coast of Vancouver Island Vancouver Island Health said Aug. 24.
First introduced in Finland more than 70 years ago, baby beds are self-contained sleeping containers with solid walls, a firm mattress and fitted sheet, allowing infants to sleep safely and connect their parents to the supports they may need as new parents.
“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 are also being provided to new parents in the Cowichan Valley.
VIHA says it is working toward and Island-wide program, although that will depend on funding. The baby beds also include supplies for mom and babe: a digital thermometer, lanolin nipple cream, washcloths and diapers, among other items.