Could Texting Be the Answer to Keeping Your Baby Safe?

According to a new study, there's a seriously modern method for keeping your baby safe. It's all about text messages...and it appears to be working.

text advice for new parents
Photo: Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

Every new parent is concerned about something terrible happening to her baby, and for good reason—infants are vulnerable, and mortality rates are alarmingly high in the United States. But could the key to keeping your baby safe be found in your cell phone?

According to a new study, there just might be a plugged-in way to keep children safer. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that sending new parents text messages or emails containing educational information may help slash infant death rates.

Researchers evaluated a program under which nurses sent new parents educational videos by text or email—and according to their findings, such a program shows positive results. While another program involving the deliverance of safe-sleep messages didn't appear to influence the way parents put their babies to sleep, the program that involved mobile delivery of parenting advice did seem to help parents navigate certain stressful parenting situations.

What kind of stressful situations, you ask? Here's an example.

"For instance, many parents worry about their baby choking when they're on the back. Therefore, we sent them a video showing them that this is not true," Rachel Moon, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine, said according to a release for this news. "A lot of parents can be overwhelmed when caring for a new baby, partly because they are not sure what to do or get different advice from different people. We think that the videos and support that we provided in the texts and emails helped to give parents the information that they needed when they needed it and also addressed common concerns many parents have."

The researchers also cited the Back to Sleep campaign, a national public awareness program, for having a remarkable influence on infant mortality rates: The program has reportedly slashed SIDS rates by half. Could this text-and-email delivery program be similarly game-changing? According to the study, surveys completed by parents sampled showed increased compliance with certain recommendations (including having their babies sleep on their backs, in the same room as their mothers, and away from soft bedding).

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But would parents feel condescended if they received regular advice in raising their own kids? It's definitely possible—but then again, we could all use some help getting through those crazy early days of parenthood. And if that help comes as free advice from medical professionals, well, maybe that's not so bad. Ultimately, it's about putting the right information in the hands of new parents who may be too overwhelmed (and sleep deprived) to remember the particulars on any given day.

What do you think of this program? Researchers are working to figure out the details, but would you be grateful for technology like this?

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