Would you let your newborn baby sleep in a cardboard box? It sounds like a preposterous question but it really isn’t. There are some states, such as New Jersey, which are participating in a new program that encourages placing sleeping babies in a cardboard box.
SIDS has been one of the leading causes of infant deaths for decades. No matter how much parents are counseled on proper safe sleep bedtime protocols, many parents are still putting their kids down to sleep in cribs full of toys, blankets and bumper pads. Even worse, in many cases, infants are in a hybrid mattress with the parents, leaving them open to being smothered and more.
While none of these things are the direct cause of SIDS, each one has the ability to play a factor in a sudden infant death.
These programs, like the one in New Jersey, were put in place to parrot the program that Finland has in place. In 2016 Finland’s infant mortality rate was 2.52 for every 1,000 births. That is less than half of the rate in the United States. Finland has had this program in place since the 1930’s when 1 out of 10 infants died in their first year of life.
Each year the Finnish government gives about 40,000 expectant mothers a “baby box” which the baby is to sleep in. The box comes along with an assortment of baby items such as bedding, diapers and clothing.
Before states in the U.S. Started to adopt this program, it was picked up in London. Similar kits are being given out in Asia now as well. Here in the U.S. the state of Minnesota has not officially adopted the practice, however, a nonprofit group came together to start donating the boxes to low income families.
Alabama, Ohio and New Jersey are currently the only U.S. States that distribute baby boxes to all expectant mothers. Parents can watch sleep safe videos online and then either pick up their box or have it shipped to them. The boxes for sleeping babies also comes along with a firm foam mattress and tight-fitting sheet, breastfeeding accessories, a onesie, diapers and wipes.
The California-based Baby Box Co, in conjunction with its Babybox University, supplies all the boxes for the three states involved in the program. The company also provides educational videos as well. New Jersey plans to distribute 105,000 boxes; Ohio, 140,000 and Alabama, 60,000 boxes.
Dr. Kathryn McCans, chair of New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board, which has partnered with the Baby Box Co to distribute the boxes in New Jersey, has said “The whole premise is that people like free things, It’s about getting the information out there.” She also added, “Through education and awareness, people can make better choices and hopefully we can see fewer children dying,”
The program was implemented in New Jerse just months ago, January 2017 to be exact. Since the program launched, approximately 17,000 baby boxes have been given out. Ohio’s program just launched last month, in March. The program has already distributed over 6,000 baby boxes.
Baby boxes are suggested up to six months of age. SIDS is most prevalent in babies age two to six months.