New and expectant moms in New Jersey can go home with cardboard boxes for their babies to sleep in. Here's why that's kind of a big deal.
A Finnish tradition dating back nearly 80 years is the inspiration for a new program in the state of New Jersey that aims to save babies' lives.
So-called baby boxes, which are handed out to new moms in Finland, may help explain why that nation has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world at just 1.3 deaths per 1,000 births. By contrast, in the U.S. the infant mortality rate is 6.1 deaths per 1,000 births, according to the CDC.
Given the unacceptable number of babies who are dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the Garden State's Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board has partnered with Los Angeles-based The Baby Box Company to give out its baby boxes to more than 100,000 new and expectant parents.
The boxes are essentially non-toxic, sustainable cardboard cribs that include a firm mattress and fitted sheet, and are a guaranteed safe sleep environment for babies.
The boxes will contain safe sleep educational materials for parents, as well as diapers, a onesie, baby wipes, breast pads, and nipple cream, according to PhillyVoice.com. The program was made possible with a grant from the CDC and is launching this week, making New Jersey the first state to universally offer baby boxes to parents.
But baby boxes seem to be gaining popularity in the U.S. on the whole. Catherine Merritt, co-founder of Finnbin, another company that makes baby boxes, explains why the boxes appeal to modern American parents.
"In an age where baby items are getting more tech-driven, these boxes offer a safe and simpler method for parents," she told us. "With the updated American Association of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines, Finnbin and these Finnish-inspired baby boxes are a perfect option to keep babies sleeping safely in the same room as parents."
Merritt added, "As New Jersey and other states offer these to new parents, there's also an opportunity to correlate additional education and resources to recipients, much as they do in Finland. Not only can [a box] be a safe sleeping place for newborns, it can be a catalyst to providing information to keep babies and their parents safe and healthy."
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Here's hoping more states will offer programs like this one, and that more parents will start using these potentially life-saving boxes. Because anything we can do to reduce the number of infant deaths is clearly a very good thing.
If you live in New Jersey and want to find out more about qualifying for a baby box, visit Baby Box University.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.