Is your baby safer sleeping in a box instead of a crib? Some parents think so and are ditching the traditional infant crib for a specially made cardboard box.
The Baby Box Co., is a Los-Angeles based business that is partnering with hospitals across the U.S. to give away free “baby boxes” to new parents.
The parents also receive a 15- minute educational video about safe sleeping habits for infants. Also included in the box are infant clothing, a mattress, a fitted sheet plus $150 worth of baby necessities.
While relatively novel in the U.S., the baby-box isn’t a new idea. It’s modeled after a program in Finland that began more than 70 years ago. Baby boxes are aimed at curbing infant mortality rates by promoting safe sleeping practices for newborns.
New Jersey adopted the first statewide baby box program; distributing a total of 105,000 boxes. And now, Ohio has joined up, along with hospitals in Philadelphia and San Antonio, Texas.
Proponents of baby boxes say the combination of educational tools and free resources will bring America's infant mortality rate closer to those found in wealthy Nordic countries.
The goal of the Baby Box program is to bring the rate of children dying from Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS) down. SIDS is usually attributed to sleep-related accidents such as strangulation, suffocation or entrapment. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported about 3,700 infants died from SIDS.
The U.S. saw a drastic decline in its infant mortality rate since 1994, when the CDC launched its "Back to Sleep" campaign urging parents to have their infants sleep on their backs rather than stomachs, but disadvantaged groups still tend to be affected by SIDS more than others.
In Finland, Baby Boxes have had a dramatic impact on infant mortality since the program was launched in 1949. In the 1930s, the country's infant mortality rate was 65 deaths per 1,000 infants. Beginning in 1949, that number has shrunk to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births— a decrease that's credited in part to baby boxes. Comparatively, the United States had an infant mortality rate of about 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016.
One University of Chicago study found that primarily lower socioeconomic groups drive the higher infant mortality rate in the U.S. after the mother and child leave the hospital. Contributing factors may include health coverage insurance and the mother’s amount of education.
What else can be done to curb infant mortality rates?
Some experts argue that policies geared toward enhanced post neonatal care for mothers of low socioeconomic status would be most effective in combating the U.S. infant mortality rate.
Universal home nurse visits, available in a number of European countries such as Finland and Austria, are one option. A provision of the Affordable Care Act offers money for a number of similar programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership founded in 1977 in New York.
The program, which sought to rein in infant deaths in the U.S., provides low-income, first-time mothers with registered nurses who visit their homes to provide assistance and child health education for mothers.
According to the Baby Box Co. website, Baby Boxes are not only available through some hospitals, but also direct to consumer.
Story source: Avalon Zoppo, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hospitals-u-s-give-away-free-baby-boxes-curb-infant-n732421