While I won't blame you for failing to know that you can, in fact, let your baby sleep in a cardboard box, there's something I have to tell you: it's been happening in Finland since the 1930s. Every mother-to-be who went in for her standard prenatal checkup left with a free box filled with baby things which, when emptied, could also be used as for baby's bed. It's all the rage now, which begs the question: how long can a baby sleep in a baby box? Turns out, the answer is as complicated as it seems.
At a time when parents are fear-stricken with the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it's no wonder something so simply designed, yet in line with The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep guidelines, might sound tempting. The box comes with a firm mattress and snug sheet, which is the exact sleep environment the AAP suggests parents provide for their children. For parents with little-to-no space for a crib, the baby box is said to be an interesting alternative to bed-sharing. It might also be safer, although the AAP states more research is needed to answer some lingering questions about the practice. Concerns, such as whether or not the box can attract bacterial growth, or if the box is made with harmful chemicals or glues, should be taken into account before deciding on this particular baby sleep method.
Adopting the use of a baby box may be an alternative to the bassinet. According to the Baby Sleep Site, Amber Kroeker, MPH pediatric injury prevention specialist (with a focus on infant safe sleep), echoes that for those parents who want to follow the AAP safe sleep guidelines, but are limited in space and/or resources, baby boxes are a great way to make safe sleeping accessible to all families. It's affordable and accommodates smaller spaces where a crib or bassinet may not. Plus, when used properly, may prevent the risk if SIDS.
In terms of how long a baby can actually sleep safely in a baby box, The Goodnight Sleep Site claims your baby should move to a bigger crib by 4-5 months of age. This is cited by Alanna McGinn, a certified sleep consultant and founder of the website. Safety becomes a concern once your baby is old enough to move around a bit more, and a box may not be the best option at that time.
While every parent wants to make the right choice for their baby's sleep space, it's always important to research all options before going with something that may seem untraditional. Regardless of differing opinions on whether or not the baby box is as safe as a crib, experts agree — parents are paying more attention to safe sleep standards than ever before. That's not a bad thing.