Families across the Island Health region can access the Baby Bed program that promotes safe sleep for babies and strong connections between families and caregivers.
“The Baby Bed program is a great resource for families throughout Island Health,” Dr. Réka Gustafson, vice president of population health and chief medical health officer, says in a press release. “This excellent initiative promotes safe sleep practices for babies, and supports parents through education and engagement.”
The free program provides a Health Canada-approved bassinet made of heavy cardboard that includes a mattress and replacement sheet, a washcloth, hat and “onesie” sleepwear, along with a safer sleep resource package.
Baby beds are a safe place for babies to sleep – which is vital, given that sleep-related factors are among the leading cause of preventable death in healthy infants. Risk factors include babies lying on their side or stomach, bed-sharing in the presence of additional risks such as parental smoking, drug or alcohol use, sleeping in a car seat, swaddling, sleeping on a soft surface, and sleeping with blankets or pillows.
Pregnant people in their third trimester or families with a new baby up to two months old are eligible to receive a free baby bed (families are encouraged to obtain baby beds before births occur). Beds are available at Public Health Units throughout Island Health. When families pick up their baby bed, they also meet with a public health nurse to review safer sleep resources and discuss any questions or issues they may have. Health units also provide baby beds to First Nations partners to be shared with their communities.
“I’m thrilled that baby beds are available throughout the Island Health region,” says Dr. Charmaine Enns, medical health officer. “By supporting safe sleep for babies, this simple, invaluable resource also helps protect precious young lives.”
The Baby Bed program first launched in 2015 in the Cowichan Valley, Port Alberni, Comox, Campbell River and Mount Waddington regions to families in need of a safe sleeping environment for their infants. It expanded throughout the central and North Island regions in 2019, and is now available for families across the entire Island Health region – which recorded 5,880 births in 2022.
Baby beds meet B.C.’s safe sleep guidelines and Canadian regulations for cribs, cradles and bassinets. The baby bed concept was first introduced more than 80 years ago in Finland, which has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
Community organizations and businesses are also invited to donate items that can be included with the baby beds as a way to celebrate and support new families. Preferred items include diapers, wipes, blankets, knitted hats, baby books and more. Organizations interested in making baby bed donations can contact their local Public Health Unit.