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Press Release

Press Release # 061-10
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health Department: Susan Craig/Zoe Tobin, (212) 788-5290 (
Fund for Public Health in New York: Pamela Nathenson, (212) 266-7829

Health Department Program Helps Prevent Infant Deaths by Providing Cribs to Low-Income Families

New Yorkers can give a crib to a family in need by donating to the Fund for Public Health in New York; Goal set to help 250 families this holiday season

December 22, 2010 – Every baby needs a crib to sleep safely, but some New York City infants may be lacking cribs this holiday season, simply because their families can’t afford them. The Health Department’s Cribs for Kids program provides cribs at no-cost to families in need. Outreach workers contact new parents in eligible ZIP codes in the South Bronx, Harlem and Central Brooklyn to set up a home visit and see whether they need cribs or other assistance. The Health Department has provided cribs for more than 4,000 babies and safe sleep education to over 20,000 families, since launching its first Cribs for Kids campaign in May 2007. Yet an estimated 12,000 New York City families are still are in need.

This holiday season, the Fund for Public Health in New York, a non-profit organization that supports Health Department initiatives, launches its third annual online campaign to extend the reach of the low-cost, high-impact Cribs for Kids initiative. The Fund aims to raise enough money to distribute 250 cribs during this holiday season. A $100 donation will buy a complete “safe sleep survival kit,” which includes a crib, sheets, netting and sleep-sack pajamas. Anyone can make a donation by visiting

“Many new families throughout the city may be experiencing tough times, and a new baby can add new costs to the family budget,” said Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner for Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health at the Health Department. “Cribs for Kids helps ensure that New York families have a safe place for their newborns to sleep. Parents can rest assured that putting their new baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib that doesn’t have any soft bedding can lower the risk of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. By providing cribs and education to families in need, we hope to help prevent these tragedies.”

“The gift of a crib can lighten a parent’s load and brighten the holiday for a baby and a family,” said Sara Gardner, executive director of the Fund for Public Health in New York. “We ask that New Yorkers consider giving a crib to a family in need this holiday season. A gift of $100 will help one New York City baby sleep more safely.”

In New York City, injuries are the second leading cause of deaths of among babies under one year old, and suffocation is the leading cause of injury deaths. From 2004 to 2009 there were 60 suffocation deaths and 239 undetermined intent injury deaths among infants under one year old in the city. Sleep-related infant injury deaths disproportionately affect low-income and minority families. These injuries highlight the present need for safe places for infants to sleep and the importance of educating New York City’s parents and caregivers about the risks their babies face when sleeping.

The Cribs for Kids program has been shown to increase safe sleep practices. A survey of participating families showed that after receiving the crib and education session, families were:

  • Five times more likely to put their baby to sleep alone
  • Three times more likely to put their baby to sleep without soft bedding or other clutter
  • 60% more likely to put babies to sleep on their backs.

The Health Department started working with the National Cribs for Kids program in 2007. Since then, the agency has provided cribs and safe-sleep education through its Newborn Home Visiting Program, which serves new parents with one visit from a health educator. Of the nearly 8,000 families this program visited last year, roughly one in six lacked a crib. The Health Department also distributes cribs and educates parents through the Nurse-Family Partnership, an intensive home visiting program for first-time mothers that begins during a woman’s pregnancy and continues until her child is two years old.

Safe sleep basics: What parents and caregivers need to know
  • Babies are safest sleeping alone. Sleeping with an adult or another child puts a baby at risk of being suffocated – especially if the adult who is sleeping with the baby is obese, or has been drinking or using drugs.
  • Babies should sleep on a firm mattress in a crib with no soft bedding. Pillows, stuffed animals, and bumpers all increase the risk of suffocation. Keep babies warm with sleep sacks instead of blankets.
  • Put babies on their backs to sleep. Babies should not be put to sleep on their stomachs or on their sides. Instead have “tummy time” with your baby when she is awake. Babies can build muscles that way and keep the baby’s head from flattening.

Anyone interested in donating to the Cribs for Kids program can do so on the Fund for Public Health of New York website,