Safe Sleep

Strong Baby Sanctuary

Infant mortality in Milwaukee — babies who die before their first birthday.

Did you know that the infant mortality rate in Milwaukee is worse than the rate in Malaysia, Latvia, Cuba, Chile, Thailand and 62 other countries?

In 2014, 89 Milwaukee babies died before their first birthdays. Nearly 60% of infant deaths are due mainly to prematurity, which raises babies’ risk of medical complications. About 15% are attributable to a combination of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy, and unsafe sleep.

This tragedy is the focus of a sustained community-wide effort. As part of this effort, Columbia St. Mary’s, key community health organizations and leaders in the faith-based community have launched the Strong Baby Sanctuary initiative.

The Strong Baby Sanctuary enlists churches and faith communities to serve as safe places for expectant mothers and families — providing support and connecting them to resources that promote prenatal and parenting education, instruction on safe-sleep practices, and emotional support to promote healthy births and healthy infants.

The Strong Baby Sanctuary is a collaborative effort, uniting Columbia St. Mary’s Urban Church Wellness Program with the City of Milwaukee Health Department, the March of Dimes Wisconsin Chapter and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County (through the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families in Milwaukee).

To find out more about the Strong Baby Sanctuary program, or to sign up for the next training session, please contact Penelope Stewart, Community Outreach Coordinator – Community Services, at 414-585-4805 or

Strong Baby Sanctuary Partners:

  • Ascension Fellowship Church
  • Bradford Memorial AME Church
  • Canaan Baptist Church
  • Ebenezer Church of God in Christ
  • Hephatha Lutheran Church
  • Holy Cathedral Church of God in Christ
  • Capuchin Community Services – House of Peace
  • True Love Missionary Baptist Church
  • Unity Gospel House of Prayer Apostolic Church
  • Village Ministry


City of Milwaukee Health Department Cribs for Kids Program

Media Coverage:

Mayor Barrett spreads safe sleep message

Mayor Barrett and Commissioner Baker on Wisconsin’s Weekend Morning News

Local Churches Raise Awareness about Unsafe Sleep Deaths

Mayor Barrett, Health Commissioner visit churches to talk safe sleep for babies

Nurse’s Notes: Health Blog