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SureStart providing the best beginning for new-borns

Amanda Lafferty, SureStart midwife, Sharon Hasson, children’s services manager at Strabane SureStart, and Sylvia Blair, SureStart midwife pictured with one of the baby boxes which will soon be available in Strabane.

SURESTART Strabane is giving new mums a helping hand with their ‘Baby Box Scheme’ which is due to be launched at the end of this month.

The baby box originated in Finland 75-years ago and most recently it was launched in Scotland.

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Due to be lauched at the Alley next Thursday, September 28,  the scheme will be open to all mothers who have completed the SureStart antenatal programmes.

The scheme is centred around a baby box and aims to provide children with the best start in life by tackling deprivation, improving health and supporting parents.

Each box, which was made in Ireland and accredited by the British Safety Standard, includes a mattress and fitted sheet, nappies, water wipes, barrier cream, bibs, a new born baby hat, a comforter, towel, blanket, scratch mittens, short-sleeved vests, long-sleeved vests and sleepsuits, socks, and a teething ring soother.

As well as all these items, the box will also contain easy to read information on baby brain development, child safety, breastfeeding and general information for first time mothers.

Children’s services manager at Strabane SureStart Sharon Hasson said they are delighted to be bringing this innovative scheme to area.

“So far this scheme has only been introduced in Belfast,” said Sharon. “The baby box scheme is available to all soon-to-be mothers who have attended our antenatal programmes. On completion of the programme they will be given the baby box.”

The boxes are available in SureStart catchment areas across Strabane town and in Plumbridge, Dunamanagh and Sion Mills.

Hoping that the scheme will help a lot of new mums Sharon explained that the baby box’s versatility means it can be used in a range of ways

“Firstly the baby box can act as a ‘next to me’ crib which can sleep a baby up until it is 12 weeks-old,” explains Sharon. “It can also be used as a travel cot up until that age, allowing mothers that little bit of extra time if they need to buy a travel cot. Once the baby outgrows the box, which is fitted with a mattress, it can be used as a beautiful memory box or a baby storage station. The boxes we will use have been designed in neutral colours making them perfect for both a baby boy or girl.”

Hoping to follow the Scottish system Sharon is already lobbying for the Baby Box Scheme to be made available to all new mothers regardless of their backgrounds or income.

“I am currently in talks with a local politician to put this scheme on the agenda of all our political representatives. This scheme should be made available to all first-time mums here in the North, just as it has been in Finland for almost a century and more recently in Scotland.”

For information on the Baby Box Scheme contact SureStart Strabane, Melmount Road on 028 7138 2658.

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