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Baylor’s ‘Backseat Buddies’ Aim To Curb Child Deaths

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Robbie Owens Robbie Owens
Robbie grew up in northeast Texas, in a tiny town where her fami...
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IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – At Baylor Medical Center Irving, the cute pink and blue teddy bears going home with new parents aren’t to amuse the new babies; rather, they’re designed to keep them safe. They’re called “Backseat Buddies.”

“It’s the simple little things,” says Education Coordinator Tina Austin, “the one, two step processes that helps these parents try to keep everything together.”

New mom Antoinette Bryant says she uses her pink teddy bear key chain daily to make absolutely certain she never forgets her Olivia Joy in the car seat.

“So when you’re driving, you keep it on your keys, and when you turn off your ignition, you see that bear and you’re like ‘oh, I forgot,I have a baby!’,” says a laughing Bryant.

But she and hospital officials know that harried, sleep deprived parents can make deadly mistakes.

“When you are a parent, especially with a newborn: no sleep, you have no sleep. You are sometimes by yourself, you just need one or two things to remind you that you have a little one to look after; they’re in the back seat,” says Austin.

The teddy bear stays in the car seat after the baby is safely removed.  It is an easy, simple plan, says Austin, but it’s one that new parents find easy to follow.

“We’ve actually had a couple of moms reconnect with us and tell us how it’s helped them, how  they’ve actually gotten out of the car thinking about what they need to do next, and they were in the process of walking to the store and they had the bear on the key chain and they said: Ah! And they turned right about and went back and got that baby!”

Hospital officials and nursing staff crafted the “Backseat Buddies” program two years ago.  But the issue of small kids in hot cars is once again top of mind after 3-year-old Benjamin Price died after being left in a Dallas daycare van last week.

Experts say if a teddy bear isn’t handy, a purse, wallet or cell phone will do as long as it’s something that the driver can’t or won’t leave the car without.

The important thing, they say, is for parents to have a plan and always follow it.

“If I see somebody in the store and I see the teddy bear on the key chain and no baby,” says Bryant, ” I’m going be asking, where’s your baby?”

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