Did you know that babies in Finland sleep in cardboard boxes? If that sounds cruel and unusual, don’t be alarmed. It’s actually quite the opposite!
For nearly 80 years, parents-to-be in Finland have been given a box by the government to set them up for success as new parents. This free gift from the state comes filled with clothes, sheets, diapers, toys and other essentials, and the box itself, which comes with a mattress in the bottom, doubles as a safe sleep space, making it the most important item of all.
In fact, it is believed that these boxes are to thank for Finland having one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world—2.52 per 1000 births, which is less than half the U.S. rate.
Although the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remains unknown, the medical community is certain that unsafe sleep behaviors (such as putting babies to sleep on their stomachs, covering a baby with blankets, putting pillows or stuffed animals in their crib or putting babies on soft mattresses or inappropriate sleep surfaces) play a role.
“A ‘baby box’ can help new parents have a simple solution of where the baby should sleep,” according to Dr. Hansa Bhargava, WebMD medical editor and pediatrician.
Similar baby box programs have been piloted in the U.K., and now New Jersey is becoming the first state to offer its own universal baby box program.
New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board (CFNFRB) is partnering with The Baby Box Company to provide boxes to new parents at the hospital. The box is a durable cardboard box that can double as a safe sleeping space for the newborn, and it is also filled with useful items such as baby wipes, diapers, sleep sacks, educational materials and more.
In order to qualify for the box, parents must first review curriculum on newborn care and complete a short quiz at Baby Box University.
This gift will no doubt come as a welcome freebie to new parents coping with the sticker shock associated with a new member of the family. A recent study just found that it costs $233,000 to raise a child, so catching a break in the early days will certainly help!