A few years ago, Americans discovered Finland's best-kept postpartum secret: the Finnish Baby Box. For the last 75 years, expectant parents there receive baby starter kits in the mail: onesies, snowsuits, PJs, and other baby stuff inside a sturdy cardboard box that is lined with a mattress and bedding.
We swooned. We envied. We wished we had thought of it.
Well, the people behind California-based The Baby Box Co. did think of something, and now they're set to launch a universal baby box
program designed to reduce Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and improve family
healthcare. They've joined forces with New Jersey's
Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board to distribute roughly 105,000 free boxes to expecting
parents in the state this year.
cardboard boxes, distributed at Cooper University Healthcare and Southern New
Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, double as a bassinet and include all
essentials to care for baby: a firm mattress and fitted sheet, a waterproof
cover, baby wipes, nipple cream, breast pads, a onesie and an activity cart.
According to CEO
and co-founder Jennifer Clary, the Baby Box Co. originally started as a gifting
concept for baby showers. But after visiting Finland and discovering their low
infant mortality rate, the company decided to repackage their gift into an
educational presentation for new parents.
Before receiving a box, expecting parents and those with infants younger than 3 months must first complete the Baby
Box University, an online parenthood preparedness course. The program lasts
10 to 15 minutes and is followed by a short quiz on childcare and Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome prevention. Those hoping to bring home a box must provide a
certificate of completion and valid contact information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts
around 3,500 newborn deaths from Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths and other sleep-related deaths in the
U.S. each year. In New Jersey last year, 93 percent of infant fatalities were related to sleep and sleep environments associated with SUID. Organizers believe
that educating parents on certain sleeping dangers—and holding them accountable—will
encourage parents to make better choices when it comes to caring for their
McCans, an emergency department physician at Cooper University Healthcare and
chairwoman of the review board, recently shared her experience with SUID cases
in New Jersey.
Though it is
tempting to cuddle in bed with a newborn, the guidelines submitted by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services suggest otherwise. The safest sleep
place for a baby is on a firm mattress, positioned on their back, with
no loose items nearby (e.g., bedding, crib bumpers, pillows and soft toys).
Additionally, parents should dress infants in a one-piece sleeper and never
allow them to sleep in an adult bed, chair or couch with another person.
Garden State was the first in the country to offer baby boxes, it
hasn't taken long for others to follow suit. In an October 2016 blog post, organizers in San Francisco partnered with local organizations and
distribution centers to add their name to the list.
Surely, the rest of the U.S.
will not be far behind.