New Jersey has embarked on a new initiative to improve an already impressive record in keeping sleeping babies safe.
The new effort is the distribution of baby boxes -- bassinet-sized laminated cardboard boxes outfitted with a mattress and a fitted sheet -- to mothers of newborns.
According to the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age."
NJ.com reports that "New Jersey continues to have one of the lowest rates of any state."
Baby boxes enhance newborn safety during sleep because they provide a flat, hard, enclosed sleeping space with no objects such as blankets or bumpers that can potentially suffocate a baby.
According to NJ.com, "New Jersey is the first state to make 105,000 boxes available to all mothers free of charge who deliver a child." The state will begin distributing baby boxes in southern New Jersey and then spread to the rest of the state.
Baby boxes are now manufactured in the United States by Baby Boxes Co.
The boxes originated in Finland 79 years ago to reduce infant mortality there, according to Baby Boxes, and are credited with "helping to decrease Finland's infant mortality rate from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to 3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013."
If parents can't wait, or if relatives or friends need an inexpensive, timely and life-saving gift for a newborn, the boxes can be purchased directly from the Baby Box Company for under $80.
The American SIDS Institute recommends the following safety tips:
* Never fall asleep with your baby in your bed or in a chair or sofa.
* The baby should be placed in a crib with no cover, pillows, bumper pads or positioning devices.
* Always place your baby, day or night, on his back to sleep.
PARENTING WITH PETE by Peter Herbst, MSW, LCSW, runs every first and third Thursday. Have a question? Email him at pe[email protected] Comment at http://www.nj.com/parenting-with-pete/.