Aurora Health Care Gives Baby Boxes to Newborns to Curb Co-Sleeping Deaths

Safe sleeping environment to lower infant mortality rates

May 15, 2017

MILWAUKEE – In an effort to protect newborns from risk of co-sleeping deaths, Aurora Health Care is now providing a Baby Box—a safe sleeping environment for newborn babies—to each newborn baby born at Aurora facilities, at no cost to the patient. Baby Boxes are being provided currently to babies born at Aurora Sinai Medical Center and Aurora Women’s Pavilion in West Allis, and Aurora plans to offer Baby Boxes at every Aurora birthing facility in the coming months.


Co-sleeping deaths in Milwaukee are rising: The city recorded 15 unsafe sleep deaths in all of 2016, but already as of March 23, 2017, five babies in Milwaukee have died in unsafe sleep environments, according to medical examiner's reports.


A Baby Box is a non-toxic, chemical-free, heavy-duty cardboard box that provides a safe sleeping environment for a baby’s first several months of life. The Baby Box also comes with a mattress and fitted sheet. Aurora is including diapers, wipes and various toiletries for the baby.


Baby Boxes are strong yet lightweight and small, making them great options for homes without cribs or bassinets, and they’re easy to transport. The Baby Box Co. partners with hospitals, government agencies and non-profit organizations around the world to provide Baby Boxes and related resources to families.


“Infant co-sleeping deaths is a public health issue, it’s heartbreaking, and we want to make a difference,” said Cheryl Bauer, registered nurse and director of women’s services at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. “Providing babies in our communities with this simple, safe sleeping environment can go a long way to protect infants.”


The idea to offer Baby Boxes to babies born at Aurora facilities came from Rebecca Sinicki, a registered nurse in the Women’s Health department at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, who researched options to lower infant mortality for several months before this program came to fruition.


“It feels great to know that Aurora was behind the idea when I brought it up,” said Sinicki. “I work with these families at the joyous birth of their babies and to know that we’re sending them home from the hospital with a Baby Box, where their new baby can safely sleep, is comforting to me.”


According to the Milwaukee Health Department, in a typical year, about 100 babies die in Milwaukee before their first birthday. Fifteen percent of Milwaukee infant deaths are labeled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI). The majority of these deaths happen while the infants are sharing a bed with another person.


In the coming months, Aurora plans to offer Baby Boxes to babies born at all 11 of its birthing facilities throughout eastern Wisconsin. Aurora birthing centers welcomed more than 12,500 babies in 2016.


“It is important to us to offer Baby Boxes to all babies born in our hospitals and birthing centers,” said Mira Ketzler, RN, senior director of women’s health for Aurora. “We feel we have a responsibility to do all we can for our youngest, most vulnerable patients. Our care for them does not stop when they leave our walls.”


All mothers and babies given an Aurora Baby Box may register for Baby Box University, an online learning tool that provides information on newborn care, safe sleep, immunizations and more. 


Originating in Finland, the concept of giving new parents a Baby Box began over 75 years ago. According to Baby Box Co., the program is credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. Baby Boxes comply with American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and meet U.S. Product Safety Commission safety regulations.


Nationally, the topic of Baby Boxes has been trending online and in social media. This year, many states began offering Baby Boxes, including New Jersey, Ohio and Alabama. The Baby Box Co. estimates that over 300,000 babies will sleep in Baby Boxes in 2017.


About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin-area health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is Wisconsin's most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics, more than 70 pharmacies and more than 33,000 caregivers. As evidenced by more than 300 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account.

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