BABY BOXES TAKE ROOT IN U.S.

Sleep safety pro­gramme ex­panded to re­duce sud­den un­ex­pected in­fant deaths

New Straits Times - - World -

CARD­BOARD boxes aren’t new tech­nol­ogy. But when linked to a prac­tice that started in Fin­land decades ago to help ba­bies sleep safely, it takes on a new pur­pose as so-called “baby boxes” make their way to the United States.

Par­ents are tak­ing baby boxes home from hos­pi­tals along with their new­borns.

A Los An­ge­les-based com­pany has part­nered with health of­fi­cials to give the boxes away for free and an on­line ini­tia­tive of­fers ad­vice to re­duce sud­den un­ex­pected in­fant deaths (SUID).

New Jersey and Ohio were the first to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gramme.

“To new mums: (SUID) was one of my big­gest fears and then it hap­pened,” said Chauntia Wil­liams, 35, of Ohio.

She is an ad­vo­cate for safe sleep­ing and the boxes after she lost her 33-day-old daugh­ter, Aaliyah, nine years ago.

Wil­liams said her daugh­ter went to sleep in a crib with cush­iony bumpers, stuffed an­i­mals and an added blan­ket be­neath the fit­ted sheet and never woke up.

She said the coro­ner de­ter­mined the bed­ding caused the death. She now uses a box with her son, Bryce. Her mes­sage to new par­ents: ed­u­cate your­selves on safe sleep habits.

SUID in­cludes sud­den in­fant death syn­drome and ac­ci­den­tal suf­fo­ca­tion and stran­gu­la­tion from over­crowded bassinets or cribs. Health of­fi­cials said the boxes were a use­ful part of a safesleep ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme.

The state of Ohio on Wed­nes­day joined New Jersey in of­fer­ing the card­board boxes, which dou­ble as bassinets, for free. Each box comes with a mat­tress, fit­ted sheet, one­sie and di­a­pers.

The idea for baby boxes started in Fin­land in the 1930s, and is tied to a sharp drop in sud­den in­fant deaths, said pae­di­a­tri­cian Dr Kathryn McCans.

The boxes pro­vided a clut­ter­free sleep space that re­duced ac­ci­den­tal and un­ex­pected deaths.

The Cen­tres for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion said the rate of SUID in the US had de­clined since the 1990s, when of­fi­cials be­gan rec­om­mend­ing par­ents put in­fants to sleep on their backs.

About 3,700 sud­den in­fant deaths were re­ported in the coun­try in 2015.

The boxes were a new idea for many Amer­i­cans.

“The thought of putting the baby in a box was weird,” said Dolores Peter­son, who was among the first to bring home a box.

Peter­son’s daugh­ter, Ari­abella, is 3-months old.

She said the pro­gramme was eye-open­ing for how much she learned about how to pre­vent sud­den un­ex­pected in­fant death.

Dr McCans said the com­pli­men­tary items, like di­a­pers and one­sies, were nice, but the im­por­tant ob­jec­tive was bring­ing down in­fant deaths and ground­ing par­ents on safe sleep prac­tices — plac­ing ba­bies on their backs to sleep; not us­ing bumpers in cribs; keep stuffed an­i­mals and blan­kets out of in­fants’ sleep spa­ces and avoid sleep­ing in the same bed as in­fants.

“No one brings their baby into bed with them be­cause they want their baby to die,” she said.

“They do it be­cause they want to be nur­tur­ing and they are, but it’s not safe.”

To get the boxes, prospec­tive mums could reg­is­ter through baby­box­u­ni­ver­sity.com, watch a hand­ful of videos on sleep safety and pass a quiz.

Par­ents could then take their dig­i­tal or printed-out cer­tifi­cates to a par­tic­i­pat­ing hos­pi­tal for their boxes.

AP PIC

Dolores Peter­son and daugh­ter, Ari­abella, at their home in Cam­den, New Jersey. New Jersey be­came the first US state to send new­born ba­bies home with a box that dou­bles as a crib.

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