A select number of British babies will be starting life in a cardboard box as part of a trial taking place at a hospital in West London.
New mums who have their baby at Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, will be the first in the country to receive Finnish-style Baby Boxes from www.babyboxco.uk for their newborn to sleep in.
The Baby Box tradition, which originates from Finland, has been credited with reducing the infant mortality rate in the country from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015.
Made from thick cardboard, the boxes are traditionally used in Finland as a baby’s bed for up to the first eight months of their life.
They replace the need for a traditional Moses basket or cot – it is thought the small size of the Baby Box prevents babies from rolling onto their tummies which experts think can contribute to sudden infant death syndrome.
The UK has some of highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22nd out of the 50 European countries with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births.
“For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality,” explains Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at the Trust who is leading the Baby Box trial. “These boxes have been proven to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland and we hope that these results could be replicated in the UK.”
The Trust will distribute 800 baby boxes with firm foam mattress, waterproof mattress covers, cotton sheets and education materials to new mums who have their baby at Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, on a first come first serve basis.
As part of the trial the babies who received the boxes will be monitored by the Trust until they are eight months old and their parents asked to fill out a questionnaire about their use of the box.
In addition to receiving the Baby Box new mums will also be given specialist education materials with advice from top experts in the field on how to further reduce the risk of infant mortality, improve parental bonding and support the transition to parenthood.
The Baby Box team at the Trust is made up of specialist midwives, breastfeeding consultants, psychologists and obstetricians who will work with health visitors and other professionals to ensure that the educational side of the boxes is maximised.
“We are delighted to provide the Baby Boxes to the Trust for UK parents and look forward to the results of the trial,” says Jennifer Clary, the CEO from The Baby Box Co, which has supplied the boxes.