Finland began the baby box program 80 years ago. They provide a maternity package to expectant mothers which include a sturdy box, clothing, blankets, and other supplies. That country has one of the lowest infant mortality rates. Rather than prenatal assistance, a few U.S. states have started using the baby box method to ensure safe sleeping for infants.
New Jersey, Ohio, and Alabama have started a baby box program distributing the boxes to families of all newborns to encourage safe sleeping and preventing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Bed-sharing is a risk factor for SIDS. Some mothers don’t have or can’t afford a crib or bassinet. Families can pick up a box or have it mailed to them. The sturdy box comes with a firm foam mattress, tight-fitting sheet, breastfeeding accessories, onesie, diapers, and wipes. It also comes with a 20-minute video with safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which include putting babies to sleep alone on a firm mattress with no toys, pillows, or blankets.
There are 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths each year in America. The rate dropped significantly after the 1994 campaign to put babies to sleep on their back, but in recent years it has increased somewhat. Through education and awareness, hopefully these numbers will drop again.
Philadelphia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. A study there gave new moms talks about SIDS and shaken baby syndrome, following up with a phone call about risk factors for SIDS. Within 72 hours of leaving the hospital, over six percent of mothers were co-sleeping, just after being told not to. The national rate of co-sleeping with infants under seven months old is just over 11 percent. The second part of the study introduced the distribution of baby boxes upon hospital discharge, reviewing safe sleeping practices, and watching a three-minute video.
The California-based Baby Box Co. boxes are tested to meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for bassinets. The baby box can be used for the first six months of life, as the greatest risk of SIDS is from two to four months.
Pao, Maureen. “States Give New Parents Baby Boxes To Encourage Safe Sleep Habits.” Health Shots. NPR, 26 Mar 2017. Web. 28 Mar 2017.