By James T. Mulder
Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Many infant deaths occur when babies are accidentally suffocated by adults sleeping in the same bed. Advocates see cardboard baby boxes as an inexpensive way to reach large numbers of expectant parents and educate them about the potentially deadly consequences of sharing beds with babies. The box, which functions like a bassinet, is big enough for most infants until they are 5 or 6 months old.
Putting babies to sleep in cardboard boxes, a new strategy to prevent infant deaths, is catching on across New York state and may soon arrive in Syracuse.
Crouse Hospital, which delivers more babies than any other hospital in Central New York, plans to begin distributing cardboard baby boxes lined with mattresses later this year to all new parents regardless of income.
To get a box, parents will have to complete an online course about the danger of sleeping with their newborns or putting them in other unsafe sleep situations.
Many infant deaths occur when babies are accidentally suffocated by adults sleeping in the same bed. The number of babies killed in unsafe sleep accidents is rising in Onondaga County and statewide.
The baby boxes are growing in popularity nationwide. New Jersey, Ohio and Alabama recently began giving the boxes, made by The Baby Box Co. of California, to families of newborns. The boxes were pioneered in the 1930s in Finland, which has one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
The baby box boom is generating lots of enthusiasm and some skepticism. Advocates see them as an inexpensive way to reach large numbers of expectant parents and educate them about the potentially deadly consequences of sharing beds with babies and other dangerous sleep practices. Critics say there’s not enough research to know if the boxes are safe or effective.