Sure, you could set up a super-snazzy modern nursery for your newborn with the same shabby-chic bassinet that’s all the rage with celeb mamas. Or… you could just put them in a box! Okay, so it’s not just any ol’ box we’re talking about. A “baby box” is a basic starter kit for a new parent, packaged up in a simple safe sleeper. If this sounds like some new parenting fad, it’s not: These cute little kits have been around for almost 80 years! Whether you’re a mommy-to-be or your BFF is preggo, it’s time to get the scoop on this generations-old tradition.
1. Safe Snoozing: A perfectly plush bed might seem like a great way to keep your little one comfy and cozy — but it can actually be risky for their health and safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a firm sleeping surface, free from all comforters, quilts, blankies, bumpers, pillows, and other assorted padding. Those are requirements the baby box fits to a T.
2. Finnish Fashion: No, not finished! Baby boxes are just getting their start in the US, but the idea launched in Finland just before WWII. In 1938, when the first boxes were distributed, Finland had an infant mortality rate of 65 per every 1,000 children born. The box was at least partially responsible for dropping that stat over 95 percent over the following decades, to its 2013 rate of three out of every 1,000 births. All new Finnish mamas get these nifty boxes to take home (provided they get a doctor’s exam within the first four months of pregnancy). Not only are the boxes themselves super useful, but each one contains 50 essential baby items, such as clothes, bedding, and socks.
3. American Arrival: No longer just a Euro-trend, baby boxes are now available in the US too! Well, depending on where you live, anyway. New Jersey was the first state in the US to start a baby box program: New moms in the Garden State will get the box (with a firm mattress), diapers, wipes, breast pads, a onesie, and other baby basics. Like NJ parents, mamas in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are also eligible for their own free baby boxes. If your home base doesn’t provide a free box yet, don’t worry — you can still get your hands on one, for a fee, from The Baby Box Co.
4. Sleeping in (Your Room): One of the newer additions to the AAP’s safe sleeping guidelines is the recommendation that baby sleep in the same room as you. This doesn’t mean your newborn should cuddle up next to you in bed though: That’s not safe for the kiddo. When your baby needs to sleep in your room but not in your bed, and the crib that you built inside of the nursery is never making its way through your bedroom door, the box comes in as a safe sleeping alternative.
5. Beyond Bedtime: If you haven’t figured it out yet, baby boxes aren’t just about the all-important box itself, but they also come filled with some pretty super swag. The first boxes were given to low-income moms — helping them to care for their new babies, even when they didn’t have the funds to do so. The exact contents of modern baby boxes depend on who’s putting the box together, but they could include anything from a baby thermometer to diapers to an eentsie-weentsie baby hat.
6. Educational Opportunities: Along with a safe sleeping spot and awesome essentials, every baby box also comes with parent education. The free boxes (such as the NJ giveaways) come with a caveat — new moms must take an online course about safe sleeping practices. Are you buying your box instead of getting it for free? Purchase a box and you’ll get access to educational materials and parenting tips too!
Would you use a baby box? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)