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Often, it seems as if other countries are doing more for their new mothers than the U.S.— from better maternity leave to affordable childcare to lower C-section rates. Finland even offers baby boxes to every new mom after they give birth. Now it seems we're finally taking a step in the right direction in a small, but significant way: A hospital in Texas has become the first in the country to offer baby boxes, similar to those given to Finnish mothers, in an effort to decrease the risk of SIDS.
The Baby Box starter kits are being given away as part of a pilot program initiated by University Health System in San Antonio and will contain everything a new mother could need including diapers, wipes, onesies and swaddling blankets, and, most importantly, a safe place for their baby to sleep.
That's right, the idea is that the box works double duty (thanks to an included mattress) as a safe place for new parents to lay their newborn down to sleep with a thin, firm foundation and no stray blankets inside—all SIDS risk factors.
While it may sound odd to have your baby sleep in a box, according to University Health System's Dr. Cynthia Blanco, "We want to raise awareness to parents that it's best that their babies sleep in a firm surface on their back, and with no stuffed animals around or thick blankets in the crib."
The number of infants dying from unsafe sleep practices had been rising every year since 2009 in Bexar County, and people involved with this revolutionary new program are hoping the boxes change that.
In Finland, a similar type of box has proven to be incredibly effective at decreasing infant mortality. "In the 1930s, Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high—65 out of 1,000 babies died," reported the BBC. But after the introduction of the maternity box—and a national health care system—mortality rates rapidly declined and now Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
Not to mention all those reports saying Finnish moms are the happiest in the world. Could there be a connection? Healthy supported babies mean healthy, supported moms and vice versa, right? (Seriously, why don't we all just move to Finland already?!)
So far about 100 baby boxes have been handed out, but the ultimate goal is to give one to every new mom in San Antonio—and hopefully the rest of the country as well.