Baby Boxes: MKE battles co-sleeping deaths
About 1-in-5 infant deaths in Milwaukee are related to unsafe sleep, two area organizations are now taking on the problem with two different approaches.
Jennifer Doering was awarded a patent this spring for her sleep pod, which combines the comfort of a bassinet, with the safety of a sensor that makes thousands of calculations per second. \"It's simple, yet complex,\" Doering said, \"if a parent rolls on top of it, it will alarm.\" The sleep pod's sensor can also be programmed to detect tipping, potential for suffocation, or a fire.
Stork and Company of Wisconsin are taking a more low-tech approach. It's baby box has no sensors, just cardboard. Director Meena Nutbeam says the idea for the baby box started in Finland about seven decades ago. \"Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world,\" Nutbeam said.
Stork and Company have partnered with several local government agencies and non-profits to get the baby box in parents' hands. The box is filled with things that parents need, like diapers, wipes, breast feeding items, and a tote bag. The box is free, but parents must complete an online class to get one. \"Education is unique to this program,\" Nutbeam said.
Doering's sleep pod idea was born at UW-Milwaukee, and she has nurtured it for years while a professor in the College of Nursing. CBS58 first met Doering in February of 2014. \"We're about one step away from a final design with the right partner,\" Doering said.
But the search for the right partner has not been easy. Doering says a company that makes bassinets has little experience in making sensors \"for a baby manufacturer this is really adding a whole new arm to their business, this comes with risk,\" Doering said. While her sleep pod could be years away from store shelves, Doering isn't discouraged \"our goal is to get this to the shelf for around $99 that's what we know the market will accept,\" she said.
While Doering and Nutbeam have two different approaches to promote safe sleep, they are also working together. Doering helped with one of the educational videos that are shown to parents when they receive their Baby Box.
When the goal is saving babies, there is no competition in Milwaukee, only teamwork.