Babies Come First for Baby 1st Network

The gift of life is beautiful, but sometimes, the moments after labor can be the most devastating for some parents. Each year, there are about 3,400 cases of sudden unexpected infant deaths, or SIDS, in the United States, according to the CDC. In 2020 alone, there were about 1,389 deaths. Additionally, it’s estimated that three babies each week die in Ohio as a result of unsafe sleep environments.

Supporting Babies in Two Ways

Baby 1st Network, a non-profit in Toledo, works to connect families, caregivers, and researchers with government, business and community service groups with two primary goals: to reduce infant mortality in Ohio and to support those families who have lost a child from SIDS.

They do this through an established network of professionals and partners in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan that includes home visitations by nurses and social workers, childcare providers, clergymen, and EMTs, among other services. Through these partnerships, Baby 1st Network is working to become the one-stop leading resource for families.

Baby 1st Network Executive Director
Stacy Scott, Ph.D., MPA, has served as the Executive Director for Baby 1st Network since 2018.

“Not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to save one. We look at what we can as a community, and as a state, to come together to ensure that every baby makes it to their first birthday and beyond,” says Dr. Stacy Scott, executive director of Baby 1st Network.

The organization got its start nearly 40 years ago as the SID Network of Ohio, which was then a support group for families who have lost children to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The organization consisted of several branches sprinkled all throughout Ohio’s major cities to further research SIDS.

Over the years, the organization shifted its focus to community outreach and education; promoting infant health and wellness, and supporting state-wide efforts to reduce the rate of sleep-related infant deaths. It wasn’t until 2015 that the SID Network of Ohio officially became Baby 1st Network with its headquarters in downtown Toledo. “We have a strong presence in the community and work with about 200-300 other community organizations in Ohio,” says Dr. Scott.

When a family experiences a loss, their information is passed along to Baby 1st Network and their journey begins. The team can provide simple tips and support but they rely on referring families to one of their partnered organizations to make sure they get the necessary help. Stacy estimates they help or refer around 300 families each year. “We do whatever we can to make sure the families get the support they need,” says Dr. Scott, adding that there is no cost to the families who receive help.

The Threat Among African-American Babies

Dr. Scott says promoting safe sleep conditions for newborns and infants is critical in getting babies to their first birthday, especially in African American communities. In 2016, the infant mortality rate among African Americans in the U.S. was over 11 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to just four deaths per 1,000 for white infants, per

There is also a 40% increased risk of sudden infant death if a baby shares a sleeping area with another person, so education and awareness is key. In response, Baby 1st Network hosts community health forums in areas where the disparity of infant mortality among African Americans is the highest. Anybody can attend these public forums.

The next forum is hosted by the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality and is scheduled for Fri., Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library – Main Branch in downtown Toledo. You can reserve your spot here.

The website is also a great resource for a variety of safe sleep tips for parents that includes using an approved crib, ensuring the baby sleeps on their back and keeping soft bedding out of your baby’s crib.

Getting Involved

If you’d like to get involved in Baby 1st Network, you can make a monetary donation, become a sponsor or by volunteering. Those interested in volunteer opportunities can email You may also contact the Toledo office located at N. Superior by stopping in or by calling 330-929-9911. Be sure to find Baby 1st Network on Facebook and Twitter.

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