How did Finland go from having one of the world's highest infant mortality rates to one of the lowest? The answer may lie in an unexpected place: a simple cardboard box. Founded in 1938, Finland's Baby Box program entitles every pregnant woman to a free baby box that not only contains clothes and other newborn necessities, but also doubles as the baby's first bed. With the United States infant mortality rate nearly three times higher than Finland's, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's welcome news that various states are starting to adopt a similar program. The Baby Box Co. a California-based company has already rolled out baby box programs in nine states, and is now launching in it's home state of California.
Starting March 7, all California families will be eligible to receive free a Baby Box filled with newborn and postpartum essentials like baby wipes, brain boosting activity cards, personal care products, nursing pads, feminine care products, onesies, a waterproof tote bag, and more. The box itself is made from a durable cardboard and, according to the baby box website, is “proactively certified to meet the highest level of available safety standards for bassinets by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), as well as Health Canada and European Union (EN) Standard regulations." However, it’s important to note, “Cardboard boxes for babies are currently not subject to any mandatory safety standards,” according to the CPSC. That’s not to say that these “voluntary bassinets” are deemed unsafe, though. In fact, the CPSC staff is currently working with baby box manufacturers “to include requirements for cardboard baby boxes within the bassinet voluntary standard.”
To receive a box, California parents need only to complete three easy steps. First, register as a California resident at babyboxco.com. Then, watch a course at babyboxuniversity.com that includes helpful parenting videos on topics like how to use the baby box, ways to prevent postpartum depression and anxiety, and how to encourage a baby's brain development from the start. Lastly, California parents should complete a short quiz, to certify they completed the course, and also select a pick-up or delivery option for their box.
“We consistently see that new parents are overjoyed and excited but also anxious as they enter parenthood,” said Nicole Samii, MD, Los Angeles County USC Medical Center. “We are proud to share the Baby Box Co. program with our maternity and pediatric patients so they know they can leave the hospital aware that they have on-demand guidance and resources to help reduce the anxiety all parents face as they learn to care for their children.”
In addition to learning about the Baby Box program online, California residents can also take part in the first ever "Baby Box Truck Tour," which will make its first event stop at the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center on Wednesday, March 7, at 10:00 a.m.
The "Baby Box Truck Tour" will make two more stops on March 7, parking at the Woman's Club of Hollywood from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., before continuing on to the Art of Birthing Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The "Baby Box Truck Tour" has formed partnership with a team of child and parenting health and wellness experts including Jennifer Waldburger, MSW, author of the bestselling book The Sleepeasy Solution, medical experts from the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center and the Art of Birthing Center, and The Baby Box Co. ambassador team. These experts will provide informational sessions on safe sleep practices, babies’ sleep schedules heading into Daylight Savings, brain health, nutrition and more.
"What I love about The Baby Box Co. is that the focus is not only on a baby's well-being but on the parents too,” said Jennifer Waldburger. "When parents have the support they need to do their best, their child benefits on all levels — physically, cognitively, and emotionally. The Baby Box Co. truly touches on topics that matter to parents, along with products that encourage healthy and safe parenting practices, giving the entire family the resources they need to thrive.”
If you're not a California resident, but are still interested in the Baby Box program and it's offerings, check out babyboxco.com to see if a baby box is available for free near you. If not, you can also opt to buy a box from $70.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.
Correction: A previous version of this story misdescribed the current safety status of the box. It has been updated.