Over in Finland, every single baby born over the past 75 years has been welcomed into the world with a special little package. Specifically, a cardboard box loaded with a mini-mattress and plenty of other basic essential supplies. There’s no baby monitor in there, but the most important element in the package of all is the cardboard box itself – a safe and secure place for babies to sleep.
This ‘baby box’ program has just started making its way overseas, with New Jersey having become the first US state to follow suit. The decision was made on the back of sudden infant death rates that have been unacceptably high for far too long, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2015 alone, more than 3,700 babies lot their lives across the US suddenly and unexpectedly. Of these, 43% were the result of sudden infant death syndrome, while a further 25% were attributed to fatal accidents or suffocation while sleeping. In Finland, the average infant mortality rate is 2.5 babies for every 1,000 live births. In the US, it stands at an unacceptable 5.8 babies for each 1,000 live births.
Health groups across the United States have applauded New Jersey for setting a positive example for the rest of the country to follow, with several other states having indicated their intention to begin similar programs in the near future.
According to official Federal guidelines, babies should be provided with a sleeping area that is free of everything apart from a firm mattress or safety-approved fitted sheet. Toys, pillows, bumpers and blankets should all be left out of the equation. In addition, they should always be encouraged to sleep on their backs, never in an adult bed or with any other person sleeping beside them.