For Infant Safety, These 3 States Want You to Think Inside the (Free) Box

Baby boxes
The Baby Box Company/Facebook

I have something to share that I’m not super proud to admit: Before my daughter was born, I briefly considered using a dresser drawer for her bed.

Don’t judge. I was a stressed-out, hormonal pregnant woman wondering how in the world I’d support my child alone while working a job that barely supported me by myself. And babies are expensive.

So I began to think… How much of these infant essentials are actually must-haves? I had already committed to breast-feeding, making my own baby food and cloth diapering to save money on formula, jarred purees and disposable diapers. My logic was that my baby would be small enough to fit in a dresser drawer, at least starting out.

Turns out my thinking wasn’t totally off. Los Angeles-based Baby Box Co. has partnered with the states of Ohio and Alabama to provide parents of newborns with free cardboard boxes for their babies to sleep in. No, seriously.

New Jersey teamed up with the company back in January, starting the trend in the U.S., though the concept of giving expectant mothers a free baby box has been a Finnish tradition for decades.

Now before you start thinking that using a box as a bed is just as crazy as my dresser drawer idea, there’s important logic behind the idea. Baby boxes are a safe sleep option that can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends newborns be put to sleep on their backs on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet — without soft bedding or toys — to avoid the risk of sleep-related deaths. The boxes’ small, firm mattresses with fitted sheets make them an ideal sleep environment for a newborn.

Ohio plans on giving away 140,000 boxes this year, while New Jersey will hand out 105,000, and Alabama will distribute 60,000, according to NPR.

The boxes (which are 26.75 long, 16.75 wide and 11.5 inches deep, in case you were wondering) can be used until babies are about 6 months old, or until they’re able to pull themselves up independently.

To get the free box in all three states, parents must first watch a few educational videos and complete an online quiz. Boxes can be picked up from a distributor or delivered home at no extra charge.

In addition to serving as a bed, the boxes come with complimentary baby swag — onesies, diapers, wipes and breast-feeding supplies. Another plus: The Baby Box Co. says the box can be used for toy storage or as a keepsake chest after your child outgrows it.

Talk about a great way to hoard pennies.

For parents living in states that aren’t giving out free boxes, the company’s most basic baby box package retails for $69.99 — which is still less expensive than most cribs.

Your Turn: Would you let your newborn sleep in a box?

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She ended up with a crib, two bassinets and a Pack ‘n Play — all gifts — so her baby did not have to sleep in a dresser drawer.