US States Embrace Baby Boxes

Friday, September 8, 2017

US States Embrace Baby Boxes

Several states are adopting the Finnish practice of distributing “baby boxes” to expectant parents—and taking the opportunity to also educate families about safe sleep for infants.

Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world—a statistic often credited to its famous “baby boxes.” The government mails these cardboard cribs filled with baby supplies to any expectant mother who signs up and comes in for a prenatal checkup. As a result, parents save time and money, and proponents say the boxes may also protect infants who sleep in them from being smothered by a sleeping parent or heavy blanket.

This year, similar boxes are debuting on a large scale in the United States—with a twist. Requiring prenatal checkups is not feasible under the US health care system, so the states of Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Colorado are using the program instead as an opportunity to educate parents about safe sleep for newborns. Parents of any income level may apply for a free box, but only if they take a series of online educational courses—available in 10 languages—that include videos, reading material, and an “ask an expert” feature. ...

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