For decades, expecting mothers in Finland who received prenatal care from a health care provider were eligible to claim a “Baby Box,” a sturdy cardboard box fitted with a mattress and sheet, and stocked with various baby products. In addition to equipping parents with basic newborn supplies, baby slept in the box for the first few months of life.
The tradition, which continues today, is credited with significantly reducing Finland’s infant mortality rate, which has gone from 65 deaths for each 1,000 births in 1938 to 1.3 deaths for each 1,000 births in 2013, according to the World Health Organization. In July, Colorado became the fifth U.S. state to launch a similar universal free Baby Box initiative, giving all Colorado babies a better chance at a strong, healthy start.
The Colorado Best Start Program Baby Boxes, provided through an in-kind donation from the Baby Box Co., are crafted to meet standards required of traditional baby bassinets and are used to promote safe sleeping habits, educate parents, and increase breastfeeding.
“Research has shown that if baby sleeps in the same room (as mom)—together but separate—moms are much more likely to breastfeed the baby,” says Luanne Williams, executive director of Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation (RMCHF) who along with Denver Health Foundation (DHF) brought the Baby Box initiative to Colorado. “We see that (having baby sleep close by) prolongs the length of time that moms breastfeed, so that’s a very good thing for both the mother’s health and the baby’s health.” The boxes provide a space for mom and baby to sleep in close proximity without co-sleeping.
Each Colorado Baby Box comes with valuable parenting information, available in both English and Spanish, related to topics from infant safety to brain development. RMCHF customized the box by working with Colorado’s Bright By Three organization to provide brain building information in the boxes. “We”re hoping that parents will become more engaged and more aware of those brain building activities, and things that they can do to improve their baby’s general health and brain building,” Williams says.
Any expecting parent interested in claiming a free Baby Box needs to complete a three step process: Register online through rmchildren.org or babyboxuniversity.com, watch a 10-15 minute Colorado-specific syllabus, and take a short quiz. Use the certificate of completion to request your Baby Box.
Included in Each Colorado Baby Box:
- 1 firm mattress with waterproof cover and cotton sheet
- 1 Flat Stanley placard with safe sleep message
- Best Start Program Educational brochure (English AND Spanish)
- 1 Bright by Three Learning games workbook (English OR Spanish)
- Diaper package
- Lansinoh breastfeeding tip card with coupon and sample nipple cream
- Diaper coupon
- Baby Box University membership card
- Lansinoh breast milk storage bags
- Vroom Activity cards