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‘Beds 4 Babies’ program aims to end accidental infant sleeping deaths in Pinellas

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PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County program is aiming to eliminate accidental infant sleeping deaths and to educate parents about safe sleeping.

“Beds 4 Babies” is a program provided by the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas.

It provides free Pack ‘n Plays and other supplies for families in the county who need a safe place for their babies to sleep.

“We educate the family about the ABCs of safe sleep the same way the American Academy of Pediatrics teaches,” said program manager, Michelle Schafer.

“Such as the baby is to sleep alone, on their back, in their own crib. So alone means no blankets, no pillows, no persons, no toys. On their back is always on their back, once they start rolling, that’s fine, but you always just start [by] [placing] them on their back. And then in their own crib, Pack ‘n’ Play or bassinet.”

The program has been going on for two and a half years.

In 2017, 10 infants died in Pinellas County from unsafe sleeping. That number was down to five babies last year.

Schafer said unsafe sleeping is the number one preventable cause of death for newborns to 18-month-old infants.

Her program, which partners with all labor and delivery hospitals and pregnancy centers in the county, gives out hundreds of Pack ‘n Plays a year.

“Last year we gave away 330 beds. Last month alone, we gave 40. So we give an average 34 a month,” said Schafer.

The “Sleep Safe kit” is worth about $100. In addition to the Pack ‘N’ Play, it includes fitted sheets, a sleep sack, a quilt for tummy time, among other supplies.

Those who wish to participate in the program must attend a class about the “ABCs of safe sleeping” and how to assemble the Pack ‘n Play.

For more information about “Beds 4 Babies,” click here. The Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas can be reached at 727-507-6330, ext. 238, 229 or 230.

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