Finnish-style baby boxes should be given to all UK parents, midwives say

Alice Sholl
Some individual NHS trusts already hand them out [Photo: Pexels]

The concept of baby boxes – a stiff cardboard box for a baby to sleep in – was first born in Finland, where mothers famously receive one as part of a ‘starter kit’ given to new parents by the state.

They were first introduced for low-income mothers in order to discourage parents from unsafely sharing a bed with their babies but, later, they were extended to everyone.

Scotland has since adopted them, as have certain UK hospitals – but midwives are now pushing for the kits to be introduced throughout the UK.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has said in a press release that providing the boxes is “likely” to reduce the risks of unsafe co-sleeping – which include a baby lying prone (face down) rather than her or his back, or sleeping on unsafe surfaces.

Co-sleeping with a parent is risky [Photo: Pexels]

Sleeping near bedding or toys that they might get tangled up in can be dangerous too, or next to a parent that’s been smoking, drinking or taking drugs.

According to the RCM, these risks tend to be higher in more deprived or isolated communities and there’s a higher proportion of “sudden unexpected death in infancy” (SUDI) – or cot death – in such homes.

Although there isn’t evidence that proves baby boxes reduces SUDI risk, midwives still reckon that giving babies their own sleep space could be worth a shot.

Gill Walton, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

The RCM has suggested low-income families could particularly benefit [Photo: Pexels]

“A baby box is a positive gift which signals that every baby is important and welcomed.

“Providing them will help many families whatever their background, and provide a more equal start to life for the baby. 

“The Scottish baby box contains a number of very useful baby items that can support the health and wellbeing of new babies including an electronic thermometer, a baby carrying sling, a bath thermometer and a range of clothing.

“Most importantly by enabling parents to give their babies a safe sleeping space, baby boxes may reduce unsafe co-sleeping or babies sleeping in an inappropriate place such as a sofa.”

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