Veronica Carroll of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island and Carly Pisterzi of the Campbell River Hospital Foundation celebrate the announcement of the new Baby Bed program through Island Health at an event this week. Photo courtesy Campbell River Hospital Foundation

Baby Bed initiative looks to promote safe sleep

B.C. has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Canada, but safe sleep is still important

A new program at the Campbell River Hospital is looking to promote baby health and lower an already low infant mortality rate here on Vancouver Island.

Island Health, in cooperation with the Baby Box Company and various community partners – including the Campbell River Hospital Foundation – officially launched the project this week. The initiative will see all families welcoming a new addition be able to receive a free baby bed, along with a care package of things like baby onesies and creams.

“We all want a healthy infancy for our babies,” says Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns. “Baby beds provide a safe sleep space option as well as visible reminder of safe sleep practices during infancy, which includes putting your baby to sleep on their back on a firm, uncluttered surface.”

British Columbia has one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in Canada (3.7 per 1000 live births). However, sleep-related factors are the leading cause of death in healthy infants. Evidence shows that the safest place for an infant to sleep is on a separate firm sleeping surface close to their caregiver.

The Baby Bed program offers families a free bed with solid walls, a firm mattress and fitted sheet, allowing infants to sleep safely. The beds can be used until babies are up to four or five months old or when they begin to roll. Participating families are also connected to public health nurses and programs that support baby, mom and family.

Carly Pisterzi of the Campbell River Hospital Foundation says they are also excited to be involved.

“We feel that this is a very important cause for the littlest patients of our hospital, and their families,” Pisterzi says. “We are very grateful to our co-funder the Childrens Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Island Health for rolling out the program, and all those involved in all stages of this fantastic project.”

In fact, the money raised at the this year’s Campbell River Hospital Foundation’s Golf. Because You Care. fundraising golf tournament, held earlier this month at Storey Creek Golf Course, went towards this cause, as well.

Creating a safe sleep environment is important to reduce injury and keep babies healthy. First introduced in Finland in 1938, baby beds are part of a program that drastically improved Finland’s infant survival rate, which is now one of the best in the world.

Those interested in registering for the program must register by visiting rightfromthestart.viha.ca and will be asked to watch a series of baby care videos at babyboxuniversity.com to earn a certificate of completion, which they will then present at their local health unit to receive their bed and care package.

For more information, visit viha.ca/babybed