Baby Boxes: Encouraging Safer Sleep for Infants

Everyone likes free stuff, so the idea of Baby Boxes — durable cardboard boxes filled with premium products for infants and their parents — is naturally appealing to new moms. But these boxes aren’t just for fun. Instead, they’re a part of a movement aimed at reducing infant mortality and keeping babies safe.

Making Sleep Safer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3,700 babies die every year in the U.S. from sleep-related causes. These include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and other causes. Doctors determine a SIDS diagnosis when the death of an infant less than one year old can’t be explained. However, there are often clear causes for accidental suffocation or strangulation. Babies can suffocate when a pillow accidentally covers their nose and mouth or — in the case of bed-sharing — when another person rolls on top of or against them. Infants can also become wedged between a mattress and the wall or between crib railings.

For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released safe sleep guidelines for infants and babies. These recommendations include placing infants to sleep on their back on a firm sleep surface, avoiding soft bedding and bed-sharing and keeping soft objects and bedding away from the sleep area. Baby Boxes can play an important role in this mission to keep infants safe while they sleep.

A Finnish Tradition

Baby Boxes are based on a Finnish tradition that dates back more than 80 years. When expectant mothers visit their doctors in their second trimester of pregnancy, they receive information about infant health and safety before receiving a government-issued Baby Box.

Although the contents are a welcome gift, the educational component moms need to fulfill in order to qualify for these boxes is what experts say has made the campaign so successful. The tradition is credited with helping lower Finland’s infant mortality rate, and today, Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

Baby Boxes at Winchester Hospital
Sleep sack given to all babies at Winchester Hospital.

Now, Winchester Hospital has joined the campaign to provide expectant mothers with information and educational resources. This initiative is in collaboration with
the Middlesex District Attorney’s Safe Sleep Campaign and aims to improve family health care and provide families with free and vital resources to ensure a safe start to babies’ lives.

It’s estimated between 60 and 80 baby boxes have been given to new parents by the hospital so far.

Before receiving a box, parents must first complete an online course at Baby Box University, complete with videos that discuss safe sleep practices, the impact and causes of Shaken Baby Syndrome and general newborn care. The online curriculum is taught to parents in conjunction with the rest of Winchester Hospital’s safe
sleep education.

Likewise, every Winchester Hospital baby now goes home with a sleep sack, a soft wrap that secures an infant’s arms and legs so that loose blankets or clothing cannot cause harm. The sleep sack adjusts as the baby grows and can be used in a way where just the legs are secured.

The baby boxes are funded through various donations, while the sleep sacks are provided by the Friends of Winchester Hospital. The hospital has gotten calls throughout the state from people looking for these innovative sleep boxes.

Your health care physician can help you understand how to implement safe sleep practices at home.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

MORE IN Health News