Update, 3/27/2017: Just a few short months after New Jersey became the first state in the U.S. to offer new parents baby boxes — a cardboard box stocked with supplies that doubles as a safe sleeping space for newborns — other states have followed suit.
Ohio and Alabama are the latest states to partner with The Baby Box Co. in an effort to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Stocked with a firm foam mattress and a fit-to-size sheet, the baby box is a place for an infant to rest, safe and sound.
While anyone in the U.S. can purchase a baby box, parents in participating states receive them for free in the hospital where the mother gives birth, providing they watch a 15-20 minute video on safe sleeping practices for babies — the videos include information from The American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises parents to put babies to sleep on their backs, to use a firm mattress and to avoid placing toys or soft bedding in their cribs.
The boxes, NPR reported, originated in Finland 80 years ago in an attempt to lower infant mortality rates. Despite their long history (and effectiveness, as per Finland's record low infant mortality rate), the U.S. only began funding them (in just one state!) three months ago. A study testing the baby box's effectiveness is currently underway at Temple University — the results may determine whether or not more states send parents home with free baby boxes.
[h/t Scary Mommy]
Original, 1/26/2017: If you're getting ready to deliver a baby in New Jersey, we have some good news. If you choose to deliver your baby in a hospital, you'll be taking home a complimentary, government-funded baby box stuffed with new-mom essentials — oh, and your baby too, of course!
The state Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review board announced earlier in the week that they're partnering up with the LA-based company Baby Box to provide new moms with all the things they'll need during a child's first few days of life — diapers, wipes and a onesie for baby and breast pad and nipple cream for mom.
The best part is that the box itself doubles as a secure sleeping space, designed to combat SIDS and sleep related deaths. Baby Box recommends placing the box next to your bed while you sleep or bringing the box into your living room so you can move around while baby relaxes (safely!) nearby. Feeling weird about putting your baby in a box to sleep? Stay with me for a minute.
First introduced 80 years ago in Finland, the boxes were initially dispensed to lower the country's high infant mortality rate. Today, thanks to the boxes and sleep-complication awareness, Finland boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, at 1.3 deaths per 1,000 births.
The U.S., on the other hand, could use some improvement. We rank 23rd in the world for infant mortality — 6.5 infant deaths per 1,000 births. A staggering 93% of those deaths were related to SIDS and sleep complications. The NJ Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board hopes that by offering baby boxes, babies have a better chance of sleeping more soundly and more safely.
Funded by a grant from U.S. Centers for Disease Control, NJ plans to administer 105,000 baby boxes this year — all parents have to do is register for one, which you can do online. If you don't live in New Jersey but will be giving birth soon, you can still buy a Baby Box from the company's website. The boxes start at $70, which, yep, sounds expensive, but, considering the box doubles as a bassinet and comes with a serious amount of baby essentials, it's more than worth it.
As of right now, New Jersey is the only state to provide government-funded boxes, but hopefully other states in the U.S. will take note and start their own box programs in the near future — after all, keeping our little ones as safe as humanly possible should be everyone's top priority.