Idea from Finland: baby box.
The US Is Finally Catching On To This Idea From Finland That Saves Babies’ Lives.
Baby boxes are a thing, and they’re incredible.
1. As of January 26, 2017, New Jersey is giving new parents an offer they can’t refuse: Free (!!!) maternity packages filled with things like diapers, wipes, and clothes, all packed in a cardboard box that doubles as a baby bed.
2. The concept has roots in Finland, where hospitals have been handing out maternity packages to new parents since 1938.
The Finnish boxes are filled with gender-neutral clothes (including outdoor clothes), diapers, toys, and more, to guarantee that all new parents have the basic necessities. A small mattress, sheets, and blankets also come inside the box so that it can double as a safe place for the baby to sleep if necessary (similar to a bassinet).
According to the BBC, “It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life. … Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.”
3. But the most revolutionary thing about the boxes is that since they were introduced in Finland, the country’s infant mortality rate has dropped to one of the lowest in the whole word.
When Finland first introduced the boxes, the infant mortality rate was about 65 deaths (in infants under the age of one) per 1,000 live births. In 2016, there were only 2.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Finland, compared to 5.3 in the US and 4.3 in the UK.
The materials provided in the box help, but it may be the process of obtaining one that makes the real difference. According to Quartz, every woman who gets a maternity package also receives prenatal and parenting information, which ultimately benefits children, as well as their parents.
4. New Jersey’s cardboard boxes, can also double as a bed if needed, and will contain diapers, baby wipes, a onesie, and nipple cream, among other necessities.
These baby starter packs are possible through a partnership between The Baby Box Co. and New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board. New Jersey is the first state to offer this type of program to combat infant mortality. Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia runs a smaller program through The Baby Box Co., which it started last May.
According to a press release from The Baby Box Co., a CDC grant will fund the distribution of approximately 105,000 boxes this year.
Above: A sample baby box available for purchase through the company’s website.
5. Just like in Finland, New Jersey aims to decrease infant deaths through education. Parents in New Jersey hoping to get a baby box must first complete Baby Box University, an online parenthood preparedness course.
Once parents read up and take a quiz on childcare and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) prevention, they can either have a box delivered to their home or pick one up.
6. With any luck, the cardboard boxes will catch on in the US like they have in Finland.
As the BBC reports: “At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women. … ‘It’s easy to know what year babies were born in, because the clothing in the box changes a little every year. It’s nice to compare and think, ‘Ah that kid was born in the same year as mine’,” says Titta Vayrynen, a 35-year-old mother with two young boys.”
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