We're Celebrating National Safe Sleep Month with Pack and Plays!

September 3, 2019

Organizations Team Up to Reduce Infant Mortality During National Safe Sleep Month
Groups will give away pack and play portable cribs at prenatal classes in September

Oklahoma City, OK (September 3, 2019) - Smart Start Central Oklahoma (SSCO) and Infant Mortality Alliance Leading Ladies for Healthy Babies (LLHB), two Oklahoma City-based organizations, are working to reduce the infant mortality rate this September during National Safe Sleep and Infant Mortality Month. 

Through a partnership with the state Department of Human Services’ Office of Community and Faith Engagement and the Oklahoma City-County Health Department Maternal Child Health Outreach Program, SSCO and IMA-LLHB will be giving away pack and play portable cribs to all expectant mothers who attend an Early Birds Prenatal parenting class during the month of September. 

Every year an average of approximately 80 infants die before their first birthday in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Leading causes of infant mortality are congenital anomalies, prematurity and sleep related deaths according to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.  

"Many infant deaths are attributed to SIDS when, in fact, the infant dies due to unsafe sleep practices," said Barbara Colbert, MCH Outreach Specialist with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and co-chair of Leading Ladies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleep, as this is the safest position for an infant to sleep. Putting your baby to sleep on his back decreases his chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is responsible for more infant deaths in the United States than any other cause during the first year of life (beyond the newborn period). 

Colbert adds, "Our goal is to promote safe sleep habits from the moment a baby arrives home, and one of the avenues through which we plan to reach this goal is the Early Birds program." 

Smart Start Central Oklahoma's Early Birds program has a prenatal component that focuses on maternal health, supportive relationships, and community resources. Anyone expecting a baby is invited to attend the free 90-minute class, which is held at several locations in Oklahoma City, including local schools, clinics, community agencies, and other non profit organizations. In addition to valuable information, attendees are given a free bag of toys, books and other materials to support a healthy and educational home environment.

"We really try to focus on the parent as their child's first and most important teacher and role model, and part of that is encouraging healthy habits beginning with the pregnancy," said Stacy Dykstra, Executive Director for Smart Start Central Oklahoma. "The ability to provide pack and plays goes hand-in-hand with our emphasis on safe practices at home."

Karen Jacobs with the state Department of Human Services’ Office of Community and Faith Engagement and co-chair of the Leading Ladies, adds that infant mortality is twice as high for black babies than any other minority."If we can help provide the resources - the pack and plays - and Early Birds can help provide the awareness and education on safe sleep, we can reduce the infant mortality for black families and all families in Oklahoma County." 

A complete schedule of Early Birds prenatal classes can be found here.