New mothers in the UK should all be given Finnish-style baby boxes to reduce the risks of unsafe co-sleeping, the Royal College of Midwives has said.
The cardboard boxes, which come with essential items such as clothes, books and blankets, can be used as beds.They are provided for all new babies in Scotland and in some parts of England.
Extending the scheme would provide all babies with a safe space to sleep and particularly benefit those from deprived backgrounds, the RCM said.
The RCM said research had identified a number of risk factors for cot death or sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).These include babies sharing sleeping surfaces with parents who smoke, drink or take drugs, and sleeping on soft or unsafe surfaces, such as a sofa.
It said these risk factors tended to be higher in more deprived or isolated communities, with a large proportion of SUDI occurring in homes with high levels of deprivation.It is in these environments that baby boxes could be especially beneficial in providing safe sleep spaces for the baby, a new position statement from the RCM said.
In England some NHS Trusts have introduced pilot schemes or full baby box schemes over the past two years.
Wales and Northern Ireland do not have any baby box schemes.
The box tradition originates from Finland, where for 75 years every pregnant woman has been given a box, which also includes with things such as nappies, bedding and a mattress.
It’s been claimed that Finland’s baby boxes, given to every newborn in the country, help reduce cot deaths. But what evidence is there that they lower infant mortality rates, asks Elizabeth Cassin.
In June 2013, the BBC News website published an article entitled Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes. It’s been viewed over 13 million times and sparked global interest in the idea.The article explained Finland’s 75-year-old policy of giving every pregnant mother a cardboard box filled with baby products, such as clothes, sleeping bag, nappies, bedding and a mattress, and how the box itself could be used as a bed.
One reason it attracted such attention is that Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world – two deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with a global rate of 32 in 1,000, according to the UN.
Over the past three years, companies selling the boxes have popped up in the US, Finland and the UK.And they’re incredibly popular not just with individuals but – more significantly – with governments. The promise of lower infant mortality rates is something to aim for.
But if you stop and think about it for a minute, this is a bold claim.It is strange that how getting a baby to sleep in a box and a few baby items bring down infant mortality rates.In theory, the boxes offer a safe sleep space for babies.