Children's health Putting your newborn baby to sleep in a box might seem like a strange idea at first glance. My own dad, born during the depression in Canada, was bedded down for the night in a bottom drawer.
The containers, supplied by US company The Baby Box Co , come filled with a specially fitted mattress, sheet, babygro, socks and hat - along with a host of other baby-related supplies. It takes its inspiration from a Finnish scheme, where state funded boxes have been supplied to new mothers for 75 years, and are credited with the significant reduction in baby deaths from SIDS Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or 'cot death' as it's widely known.
Numbers have fallen from 65 per 1, in when the scheme began, to just one in 6, today. Perhaps even more attractive is the idea that putting your baby to bed in a box could drastically reduce their chances of SIDS — surely a message that every terrified new parent would find hard to ignore.
But is it really this simple? But this is not the case, says Jenny Ward from the Lullaby Trust: They simply provide a safe place for babies to sleep, no different to a cot or a Moses basket. Anything that helps keep their baby in a separate sleeping place that has a firm, flat, waterproof mattress and can be in the parents room is going to be something we are very interested in.
The huge drop in deaths in Finland might sound great, but there has also been a corresponding fall in the UK - where no box scheme has been in operation. Research from , shows that breastfeeding mums get more rest when they sleep with their babies, while numerous studies show that breastfeeding itself lowers the risk of SIDS - unpopular news in times when the freedom of choice to formula feed is quite rightly celebrated, but a fact undisputed by evidence nevertheless.
But advice given to new parents is often laden with diktats that tell them never to share a bed with their bab y, while at the same time reminding them how important it is to breastfeed.
If you smoke, drink or take drugs your baby will have a lower risk of unexpected death if they sleep on a separate surface such as a cot next to your bed. Mums and dads are not often given a real picture of night-time parenting.
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It sounds so easy. But most new mums and dads find it is much harder than that. Every time we put the baby down? It wakes up again. But parents are not talked to about this common scenario and told how to safely co-sleep, should they wish.
Handing out boxes without discussion of the reality of night-time with a young baby seems to be missing an important opportunity to move beyond a 'one size fits all' approach. I also think it's vital that the commercial influence is appropriately regulated and parents' details are not merely lucrative marketing fodder.
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