A third U.S. state has rolled out a statewide safe-sleep program that continues to gain momentum across the nation. Joining Ohio and New Jersey, Alabama is the newest member of an initiative that provides free baby boxes to parents of all newborns in the state.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a baby box, allow me to catch you up to speed. It’s literally a sturdy, portable cardboard box that comes with a firm, foam mattress and tight-fitting sheet. This provides a safe sleep environment for newborns up to 6 months, in most cases.
Included inside each baby box (provided by the California-based Baby Box Co.) are a baby body suit, breastfeeding accessories, diapers, and wipes. In total, Alabama plans to distribute 105,000 boxes.
There’s a little bit of a catch, though: In order to get their hands on a box, parents must watch online videos about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and safe sleep and then complete a short quiz. Only then can a baby box is be mailed to them or picked up at a local distribution center. These videos last 15 to 20 minutes and reflect American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on safe sleep, which stress putting babies to sleep by themselves on a firm mattress and without any soft bedding, pillows, or toy in the crib.
Did you know the concept of baby boxes was actually borrowed from Finland? The Finnish government began issuing them 80 years ago when nearly 1 out of 10 children in the country died before age 1. In order to qualify for a box, women were required to have a health check before the end of the fourth month of pregnancy. Fast forward to today, and Finland now has one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
Take a peek at the goodies Finnish parents get to take home in their baby boxes:
Even though sudden unexpected infant deaths have dropped significantly in the U.S. in recent decades — thanks to the Back to Sleep campaign — there are still 3,500 cases each year in our country. Personally, I think the baby box programs are a smart safe sleep initiative. (These boxes come in cute prints, too. So they’re perfect to use as storage bins after babies outgrows them.) The way I see it, if something so simple can create safe sleep environments for babies, the investment is worth it.
What do you think of the baby box trend? Have you received a baby box in the U.S.?