Home Health Care Open Door using ‘Baby Boxes’ to highlight safe sleep practices

Open Door using ‘Baby Boxes’ to highlight safe sleep practices

Lindsay C. Farrell, Open Door Family Medical Centers president and CEO, displays contents of a Baby Box given to expectant mothers and designed for safe infant sleep. Photo by Aleesia Forni

Open Door Family Medical Centers is hoping to use a basic, cardboard box to help combat infant mortality.

According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the U.S. from sleep-related deaths.

“It happens,” said Lindsay C. Farrell, president and CEO of Open Door. “It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does, it’s devastating.”

The Ossining-based health care provider to the economically disadvantaged will offer baby boxes to moms-to-be who receive obstetrical care and prenatal education at one of Open Door’s five facilities in Westchester and Putnam counties.

The portable cardboard baby boxes feature a fitted cotton sheet and firm mattress that can be used as a baby crib or bassinet. The baby boxes, just under 27 inches long, can be used until the child is six months old or weighs 15 pounds.

According to the boxes’ creator, Los Angeles-based Baby Box Co., many experts recommend using a safety-approved Baby Box or crib covered by a fitted sheet to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, and other sleep-related infant deaths.

“The Open Door Baby Box experience enhances our ability to deliver vital education on topics including safe sleep for newborns,” said Dr. Andrew Swiderski, a pediatrician at Open Door. “It’s a unique opportunity to offer patient care and patient advocacy in a way that really resonates with expectant mothers.”

The Open Door’s Baby Box, which will be given to expectant mothers free of charge, will also be filled with supplies for new mothers who might otherwise struggle to purchase the basics. The boxes include a sleep sack, clothes, toys, washcloths, hygiene kit and baby books.

Along with providing the boxes, Open Door will offer support services and education to expectant and new mothers, including guidance about nutrition and wellness, advice on coping with stress, assistance in monitoring medications, access to benefits and help with financial planning.

“You just need a lot of support and information when there’s a new baby coming into your life,” said Farrell. “We wanted to provide that support for our patients, many of whom are very low income and have lots of barriers for a whole list of reasons.”

As part of the baby box initiative, Open Door will also offer new online resources in both English and Spanish about newborn safety and parenting skills.

“We’re not going to go in and fix everything, certainly, but we believe information is very important, especially when there’s a new baby on the way,” Farrell said.

The baby box idea originated in Finland, where pregnant mothers who receive prenatal care and parenting information are given a box that doubles as a bassinet and is filled with newborn supplies. Baby Box Co. aims to bring that tradition from Finland, a country that holds one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates, to the U.S. Boxes on the company’s website range from $70 to $225.

Earlier this year, the company partnered with the state of New Jersey to offer the boxes to pregnant woman across the state. Alabama and Ohio also offer the boxes for free to parents who watch online videos about safe sleep practices.

The company’s partnership with Open Door is the Baby Box Co.’s first endeavor in New York.

“We would love this to be the beginning of something much bigger in our state,” Farrell said.

Open Door operates centers in Brewster, Mount Kisco, Ossining, Port Chester and Sleepy Hollow. For more information, visit opendoormedical.org.


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