Could a cardboard box filled with maternity swag be behind an infant's healthy start in life?
It sort of looks that way. Finland has one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates—just 3.4 deaths per 1,000 births, which is half the rate in the U.S.—and it seems like this number might partially be attributed to the fact that the government provides all expectant moms with a baby box filled with clothes, bedding, and other products used in the first few months of a baby's life.
To get the box—which also comes decked out with a small mattress in the bottom that's supposed to double as baby's first bed and help reduce SIDS—all expectant parents need to do is attend a prenatal appointment before their fourth month of pregnancy.
While the cardboard container has been a staple in Finland for about 75 years, copycat boxes are now starting to crop up elsewhere. In South Asia, a Harvard University doctoral student created the Barakat Bundle, a low-cost box of baby care items that helps prevent infections during childbirth. And here in the U.S., childhood besties Jennifer Clary and Michelle Vick started The Baby Box Company, in order to sell boxes directly to parents that help make it easier for them to practice safe sleep.
There are several different versions on the company website, including a $69 basic "bed" box, that comes with a mattress, waterproof cover, and sheet, and a $225 top-of-the-line "Every Mother Counts" bad boy pimped out with onesies, socks, bibs, sleep sacks, organic bath products, a thermometer, and a teether.
According to the website, the boxes provide a safe sleeping environment for infants up to eight months. Plus they're portable, they take up less space and are more affordable than a crib, and they're non-toxic and eco-friendly—all while reportedly lowering the risk of SIDS by 40 times for parents who would otherwise co-sleep with their babies.
Not too shabby!
While most parents use their Baby Box as a safe spot for their baby to sleep at night, typically keeping it right next to their bed, others use it as a spot for their baby to nap during the day while, say, Mom and Dad are busy cooking in the kitchen. Others repurpose it as a keepsake box.
"One of the beautiful things about the Baby Box tradition is that it is steeped in the powerful belief that every child and every family matters regardless of socioeconomic status," the website states. "Every baby deserves a strong, supported start in life."