Promoting Infant Wellness

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CRS Promotes Infant Wellness, Safe Sleeping Practices

As refugee families settle into their new lives in San Antonio, the Center for Refugee Services (CRS) helps them to provide for their youngest members by promoting infant wellness:

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  • Monthly diaper packages for children < 4 (through a partnership with the Texas Diaper Bank and the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ Bishop’s Storehouse)
  • New baby clothes (through a partnership with the Assistance League’s Togs for Tots)
  • Free car seats and certified installation (through a relationship with the University Health System’s Injury Prevention Program)
  • Free Pack ’N’ Play baby beds (through a partnership with the Southwest SIDS Research Institute)
  • Welcome Home Baby Bags, and
  • Monthly feminine hygiene products

While welcoming a new life into their homes is a joyous occasion, CRS wants the families to have the essential items the baby will need to be healthy and safe.  CRS’s maternity program works hard to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in refugee families.

SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant, for which no cause can be identified. SIDS is the No. 1 killer of all babies between one week and one year of age. Many of these deaths are linked to unsafe sleep practices, of which co-sleeping or the infant sleeping with an adult or older child is a major cause. Maintaining a separate, uncluttered and secure baby bed, where the baby sleeps alone, is one of the best ways to prevent SIDS and promote safe infant sleeping.

For many years, CRS (in partnership with the Southwest SIDS Research Institute’s A.C.C.E.S.S. program – short for “All Children Can Enjoy Safe Sleep”) has provided onsite classes to teach parents how to create a safe sleep environment for their infants and help prevent SIDS. Upon completion of the single-session class, expecting or newly delivered refugee families who lack the means to purchase a baby bed receive a free Pack N Play bed from the Southwest SIDS Research Institute.

Because COVID-19 has interrupted many on-site classes at CRS, we have videotaped staff teaching the class and provided English subtitles. This is a 25-minute video. After viewing it, clients can phone us with any questions and then meet with staff at CRS to receive the baby bed. (As a bright note in this pandemic experience, posting the instructions online in this way allows us to also have the instructions translated into languages spoken by our client groups. At this writing, we are expecting the first translation, which will be Pashto – spoken by a majority of our Afghan SIV families.)

CRS supplements the bed with a Welcome Home New Baby Layette full of new infant clothes, diapers, wipes, blankets, books, toys, shampoo, etc.  Often the Welcome Home Baby Bags are assembled and donated by churches, social service or Eagle Scout projects. If you are interested in putting together some boy/girl Welcome Home Baby Bags, please contact Jill Rips at jrips@sarefugees.org for a list of the necessary items to include in each bag.