New Jersey started a baby box program earlier in January, and so far, 3,800 parents applied for the initiative which aims to reduce the rates of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
SIDS is mainly due to suffocation with blankets, toys, the baby becoming trapped in the crib, or wrapping their neck with their own clothing.
The program was copied from Finland’s baby box system, which drove the SIDS rates down to the one of the lowest in the world. Finland employed the program 80 years ago when 10 percent of all Finnish infants were dying before becoming one year old.
In essence, all the box does is to serve as an alternative crib, as its walls are flat and stable, and its mattress is specially designed for a baby to sleep on its back. Reportedly, the baby box is as safe as a crib that meets all recommendations for a safe sleep.
Boxes to save babies and parents alike
The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force issued guidelines to ensure that babies attain a significant level of safety while sleeping. Basically, babies should not sleep around pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, or towels. There should not be additional layers of bedding besides the crib’s sheet.
Babies should also sleep in the same room as their parents, but never on the same surface. Falling asleep while holding a baby is noticeably dangerous, as the danger of suffocation increases exponentially. Sleeping on a couch with a baby is more dangerous than doing so in bed, which is still dangerous. Many times people are not aware of this fact, which is where baby boxes come in.
“These deaths can include accidental overlying when the baby’s sharing a surface with another person, suffocation when they get trapped under blankets or in pillows, strangulation if something wraps around the baby’s neck, entrapment when the baby gets stuck between a poorly fitted mattress, or cushion in some other surface that’s part of their sleep environment,” stated to Boise State Public Radio Dr. Kathryn McCans from New Jersey, part of the Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board.
In the end, baby boxes are a hook to educate parents, as they are not just the box itself, but they also come packed with baby supplies and educational material to ensure that the child gets the care it deserves. It’s also portable, making it easy to move around the house and place it in the parent’s bedroom when it is time to sleep. It is also perfect for traveling, as it can be filled with objects and then emptied when the baby needs to sleep.
Guidelines also include that babies should be put to sleep on their backs all the time, and one must be wary of people who care for one’s baby, as they should also know that they should place them on their back. Putting a baby to sleep on its belly is dangerous, as it restricts its natural ability to breathe and to respond to people outside the box.
At least 105,000 baby boxes will be given out to New Jersey parents this year. To qualify for a baby box, parents must sign into babyboxuniversity.com and fill out the registration form. Since the box is so inexpensive, the program behind its distribution ensures that they can continue providing baby boxes for a long time.