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Open Door's Baby Box Helps Get Expectant Moms On The Right Path

“At the Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining on March 7, Community Coordinator Alaina Betancourt (right) reviews the contents of
the Open Door Baby Box with expecting mom Ana Ardon.”
“At the Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining on March 7, Community Coordinator Alaina Betancourt (right) reviews the contents of the Open Door Baby Box with expecting mom Ana Ardon.” Photo Credit: Contributed

Being an expectant mother involves a lot of decisions to make and a lot of information coming at you quickly. Open Door Family Medical Centers is hoping to change that.

Open Door, which has locations in Westchester and Putnam, is introducing the Baby Box to pregnant woman. Open Door is the first federally qualified health center in New York to offer the Baby Box.

The Baby Box doubles as a bassinet and is filled with supplies for the baby. It originated in 1930s Finland and is still in use. It is credited with helping the country have one of the best infant mortality rates.

The Open Door Baby Box includes a sleep sack, onesies, socks, mittens, a newborn cap, baby toy, organic burp cloth, tote bag, terry cloth bib, washcloths, hygiene kit, baby book and seasonal clothes. The box itself includes a mattress and cotton sheet and can be used as a baby crib or bassinet for newborns up to 5 to 6 months old, or weighing up to 15 pounds.

Amy Wolfson, chief external affairs relations officer at Open Door, said many of the expectant mothers at Open Door live at or below the poverty level.

"Their lives are tough," Wolfson said. "We heard from our moms about things they need. They need support and these services."

Open Door hosts information sessions twice a month, where mothers can learn about ensuring babies sleep safely, baby milestones, how to find a pediatrician, dealing with post-partum depression, and other pressing questions parents might have.

"A lot of parents are not sure about things like vaccines and circumcisions," Dr. Andrew Swiderski, a pediatrician at Open Door, said. "Those are big debates you don't want to leave until the day of the birth."

Swiderski said the evidence is in favor of circumcision, while mothers are also taught it is best to exclusively breastfeed a baby.

"This is a great way to expose them," Swiderski said. "It's a nice way of bringing up post-birth issues early on the process. A lot of people haven't done the research and are just not prepared. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made."

Getting information on the internet can be a mixed bag for expectant mothers, Swiderski said.

"It can be a huge resource of free accessible information," Swiderski said. "But it has to be used the right way with reliable sources. You can google vaccines and get a bunch of sites that bash vaccines- they just make more noise than the CDC. There's a ton of misinformation that's not based in science."

For more information on Open Door and the Baby Box, visit www.opendoormedical.org

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