New Jersey is the first state to test out a new program aimed at lowering the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It consists of a free box designed to be a crib for a newborn, and it is given to new parents as a way to educate them on SIDS and how to prevent it.
More than just a box, it is filled with clothes, diapers, baby wipes, breast pads, a firm mattress, a fitted sheet, bathing products, and more baby essentials.
In order to receive the box, however, the parents must pass a quiz following a 10 to 15 minute online educational video created by medical professionals. The topics include safe sleep, newborn care, and breastfeeding. They can then obtain the box at a designated location or have it sent to the home.
In 2017, New Jersey plans to hand out 105,000 baby boxes, a figure based on the number of expected births.
The idea originated in Finland, which now has an extremely low infant mortality rate. In the 1930’s, the country was poor, with a very high infant death rate of 65 per 1000 births. A similar baby box program was started, in part because many of the poor didn’t have cribs or bassinets. Eventually, all parents were eligible for the box. Now, the death rate is 2.52 deaths per 1000. The United States’ rate is 6.5 deaths per 1000, or 23rd in the world.
In New Jersey, the project is being coordinated by The Baby Box Company of California and the state Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board(CFNFRB), and is funded by a $40,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is available to all, but the recipient must apply online for it. Sign up at Baby Box University.
Factors that lower a baby’s risk of SIDS include the well-known recommendation that they be placed on their backs at naptime and bedtime. Other safety measures include leaving pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, bumpers or any other items except the mattress and sheet outside the crib or box. Also forbidden is smoking or substance use inside the house during pregnancy and after birth. Breastfeeding exclusively for six months or as much as possible is encouraged.