More States Are Giving Out ‘Baby Boxes’ To New Parents

These cardboard boxes may be the best sleep option for your newborn.

It’s been going on for nearly 80 years in Finland, but now, ‘Baby Boxes‘ are finally in the U.S. New Jersey became the first state to send all babies home from the hospital with a free box to sleep in, plus other newborn essentials. Now, more states have joined the program.

Ohio and Alabama recently joined New Jersey in offering the free boxes. All parents have to do is watch online videos about SIDS and safe sleep, then complete a short quiz. They can then pick up the box at a local distribution center or have it mailed to them.

The boxes are filled with clothes, sheets, diapers and toys, as well as a mattress bottom for the box, which doubles as a safe sleep space. It’s believed these boxes are the reason Finland has the lowest infant mortality rate, at 2.25 for every 1,000 births. In comparison, the infant mortality rate in the United States is about 5.8 per 1,000 births, according to the CIA.

While the goodies in the box are helpful, the goal of the Baby Box is to prevent SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Although the cause remains unknown, unsafe sleeping (such as babies sleeping with blankets, stuffed animals or loose-fitting sheets) is believed to play a role. While a cardboard box might seem uncomfortable and weird, it’s actually the opposite.

“The whole premise is that people like free things,” Dr. Kathryn McCans, chair of New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board, told NPR. “It’s about getting the information out there. Through education and awareness, people can make better choices and hopefully we can see fewer children dying.”

New Jersey plans to distribute 105,000 boxes, Ohio, 140,000 and Alabama, 60,000. If you live in an area that is not (yet) giving out Baby Boxes, you can purchase one here.

For more tips on safe sleep and reducing the risk of SIDS, click here.