You’ve just spent hours in labour, and have finally gotten to see that precious little face you’ve been waiting nine long months for. Now what? For some mums, they were given a newborn baby box. A box? Yes, a cardboard box.
Temple University Hospital’s “newborn baby box” initiative gives free cardboard boxes out to new mums while in the hospital. So, you’re thinking, “Yeah, so what? I have a ton of cardboard boxes just sitting in my house – most of which I’m getting ready to throw away.” But, wait. These boxes actually serve a real health-related purpose.
The sleeping boxes are fitted with firm mattresses and sheets. The hard surface that the bottom of the box provides may indeed help to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The box keeps baby flat and is free from possible suffocation risks, such as plush pillows or toys.
Not only is the newborn baby box meant for baby to sleep in, but it also comes stocked with newborn essentials. What’s in the box? The hospital fills it with items such as onesies and nappies, along with health and safety information. Pulling double-duty, the box helps new mums by providing a safe sleeping environment for baby and much-needed educational materials.
The box doesn’t only promote healthy sleeping habits in the form of a hard surface, but it also acts as an alternative to co-sleeping.
Why not co-sleep with your newborn? Unlike the box (or cot mattresses), the baby box doesn’t have a soft, cushioned surface. There are no other people or pets who may pose suffocation hazards and there are no pillows in it.
Dr. Megan Heere, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University Hospital, told ABC News, “We weren’t sure how people were going to react to putting their babies in a box.” Quite true. Taking a look at the box may make you think of that cardboard animal you brought your child’s new kitten home in – and not a place for your baby to nap. But, these ‘boxes’ aren’t exactly a new notion. The Finnish government has been handing out free ‘baby boxes’ that come complete with nappies and other newborn necessities as part of their Maternity Grants Act.
Started way back in 1937, this act set out to decrease infant mortality. And, did it ever! Prior to the act there were 65 deaths for every 1,000 births. The rate today has dropped to 3.38 infant deaths for every 1,000 babies born.
Some new mums, especially those who have delivered unexpectedly early, may not have anywhere else for baby to sleep. The box provides a simple solution in lieu of a cot or bassinette. While the cardboard boxes aren’t long-term situations, they do offer an easy option that provides a safe sleep environment as mum and baby transition from the hospital to at-home life!