New Jersey has taken a welcome lead from Finland’s book this week, having begun the implementation of North America’s first “baby box” program. The Finnish have been running their own scheme for years – each baby born in the country being welcomed with a cardboard box full of essentials. But it’s the box itself that represents the most important item of all – a safe and secure place for babies to sleep.
The new follows the publishing of horrific statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggest that the current US average infant death rate is unacceptably high. Thousands of deaths each year are attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, while hundreds of babies lose their lives by suffocation or strangulation during sleep.
These simple cardboard boxes are issued to provide parents with a safe and effective confined space for babies to sleep in. Whether sleeping in cribs, strollers or anywhere else at all, Federal guidelines state that there should be nothing present other than the approved mattress itself and the clothing worn by the sleeping baby. Anything else – toys, blankets, accessories etc. – represents a significant danger that could harm or even kill a baby while sleeping.
Parents have also been urged once again to resist the urge to sleep side-by-side with their babies, whether in bed, on the couch, in a chair or anywhere else at all. Health groups are campaigning frantically to reduce infant mortality rates, which currently stand at 5.8 babies per thousand live births. In Finland, the number stands at just 2.5.
New Jersey has been applauded for taking the initiative and setting a positive example, with a number of other states having confirmed their intentions to follow suit in the near future.