For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a cardboard box by the Government to keep their sleeping newborn safe and sound.
Now a borough in London is following suit.
All new parents in Hackney will soon be given a Finnish-style baby box, which is intended to be used instead of a cot or Moses basket for the first eight months of a child’s life.
The move is a bid to reduce the incidences of sudden infant death syndrome, known as cot death.Experts say the small size of the boxes prevents babies from rolling onto their stomachs – placing a baby to sleep on their back is said to reduce the risk.
The practice has been credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
The country has seen figures fall from 65 deaths per 1,000 births in 1938, when the boxes were introduced, to 2.3 per 1,000 births in 2015.
Britain’s infant mortality rate is 4.2 deaths per 1,000 births — only the 22nd best in Europe.
In the UK, just under 300 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year of suspected cot death.
The boxes have also been trialled at hospitals including Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, and North Middlesex, the Evening Standard reports.
The council’s health chief Jonathan McShane said: ‘After people see it is working in Hackney it will be picked up in other London boroughs. It’s all about pointing new mums in the right direction.’
Hackney will team up with US firm The Baby Box Co to introduce the boxes to new mothers before the autumn.
For more than 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a Baby Box by the state that serves as a starter kit for their new baby.It contains clothes, blankets, and other newborn necessities, and the Baby Box itself–which is lined with a mattress–is used as the child’s first bed.
The Baby Box program has helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.The initiative enables every expecting woman in the country to claim a free Baby Box once she receives prenatal care and parenting information from a healthcare professional.
It is credited with helping to decrease Finland’s infant mortality rate from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to 3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013.
The tradition dates back to 1938. In the 1930s, Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high, but the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.
Source: The Baby Box Co
They are likely to contain a maternity package including mattress, waterproof cover and cotton sheets, breast pads, wipes and nappies.
To obtain the free box, expectant parents who live in the borough need to complete an online education course on healthy habits and support services.
While NHS England say there are no plans yet to introduce a similar scheme city-wide across London, individual hospital trusts are considering handing out the boxes.
Scotland has been promised to benefit from the scheme this summer. Last week a hospital trust in Greater Manchester began giving out the boxes.
They are also common in the US, where earlier this year New Jersey became the first state to give them out for free.But other countries, including Iceland and Japan, have similarly low infant mortality rates without using the boxes.
Some experts suggest it is the wider approach to healthcare that is more important than the box itself.
In Finland, the baby boxes were introduced in the 1930s when cot deaths were high – and it is thought their introduction contributed to the reduction in the infant mortality rate in the country.Initially the boxes were only given to low income mothers – before the scheme was expanded to include all families.
Mothers can choose between the boxes – which contain clothes, a sleeping bag, bathing products, nappies and a small mattress – or a cash grant.
Most opt for the box as its value is higher than the money.
All new parents in Hackney will receive the cardboard box traditionally provided by the state in Finland. To be used as a bed, it is said to help reduce infant mortality rates b-error