A hospital in West London has become the first in the UK to give parents so-called “baby boxes”.
The idea is based on a tradition in Finland that began in 1938 and is credited with helping the country achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. Every new mum is given one by the Finnish government.
The UK boxes contain several newborn essentials such as nappies, wipes, clothes and a thermometer. Crucially, it contains a mattress which turns the box into a bed. As it’s so portable the baby can sleep in there and never be far away from Mum or Dad. It also discourages parents from sleeping with their newborns in their own beds.
New parents Bianca Adefarakan-Davies and her husband Robert were among the first in the UK to be given a baby box for their son Jackson. Although initially unsure about the idea of their baby sleeping in a box, they were soon impressed with its design.
As well as providing a safe sleeping environment, information provided with the box means parents can tap into a host of educational resources, and this is where some of the health benefits stem from. Karen Joash, the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who’s helped get the UK scheme underway, says educating parents is the greatest gift.
What may come as a surprise is the boxes and the contents aren’t costing the NHS a penny. An American social enterprise company is funding the scheme with backing from businesses. Baby Box Co is also behind the new online resource to help parents called Baby Box University.
Plans are in place for baby boxes to be provided at hospitals in Cheshire, Blackpool and Birmingham over the coming months, as well as several more in London.