A Scandinavian tradition for new parents is coming to the United States. Well, just one state — for now.
A new program in New Jersey will provide sturdy cardboard baby boxes for free to every child born in the state, regardless of their parents’ income level.
Yes, it’s actually cool to put your baby in a box.
The program is offered by New Jersey’s Child Fatality & Near Fatality Review Board and funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, it will give away 105,000 boxes from The Baby Box Co. to provide a safe snooze spot for newborns.
Aside from serving as a portable crib complete with a tiny mattress, each box contains items like diapers, wipes and even a onesie for your little wonder to wear. The boxes are an upgraded version of The Baby Box Co.’s basic box, the Bed Box, which retails for $69.99.
How to Get a Free Baby Box in New Jersey
It’s easy to sign up for your own baby box if you’re a New Jersey parent.
- Register at Baby Box University, the education arm of The Baby Box Co., and make sure your contact info and mailing address are in New Jersey.
- View New Jersey’s parenting education lessons on the website, and take a quiz about what you learned. The program includes topics like newborn care, breast-feeding and infant sleep safety.
- Choose how you want to receive your baby box: by mail or pickup from a Baby Box University partner.
Why Baby Boxes are Important (Not Just Cute)
It sounds counterintuitive, but a box is one of the safest places a newborn can sleep.
It can be tempting to bring your infant into bed with you or fill their crib with blankets, toys and stuffed animals. But those items can block baby’s access to air, which can compound existing physical conditions and lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
The safest sleep position for baby is on their back on a flat, firm surface. The box format promotes this while making it easy for baby and parents to share a bedroom without having to maneuver around bulky furniture.
Baby boxes have gained attention for their popularity in Finland, where families have been receiving these starter kits to prevent infant mortality since the 1930s.
Just a stone’s throw from New Jersey, Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia launched its own baby box program last year, doling out 3,000 boxes as part of its own sleep-safety education program.
A freebie that serves as a newborn starter kit and an educational guide for new parents? It’s the perfect pairing.
Our bet: You’ll be seeing similar programs spreading across the U.S. sooner rather than later.
Bring on those cute baby box Instagram snaps!
Your Turn: Have you ditched your baby’s crib for a baby box?
Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. She has no use for a baby box but really, really wants to see all your Instagram photos of them in action.