Trust First in UK to Pilot Finnish-style Baby Boxes
Women who have their babies at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, will be the first in the country to receive Finnish-style ‘baby boxes’ for their newborns to sleep in as part of a new pilot.
The baby box tradition in Finland is thought to have contributed to 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. The UK has some of highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22nd out of 50 European countries, with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births.
The boxes, which are made from a very thick cardboard, are traditionally used in Finland as a baby’s bed for up to the first eight months of their life. Replacing the need for the 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 Trust will distribute 800 baby boxes, which also come with a firm foam mattress, waterproof mattress cover, cotton sheet and education materials, to women who have their babies at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, on a first come first serve basis from the end of June. In addition to receiving the baby box, mums will also be given education materials with advice from top experts on how to further reduce the risk of infant mortality. As part of the pilot, the babies with the boxes will be monitored by the Trust until they are eight months old and their parents asked to fill out a questionnaire.
Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at the Trust who is leading the baby box trial, said:
“For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality. These boxes and the education resources that sit alongside them 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 baby box team at the Trust is made up of specialist midwives, breastfeeding consultants, psychologists and obstetricians. The Trust team will work with health visitors and other professionals to ensure that the educational aspects of the project are maximised and tailored to the needs of the local population.
Jennifer Clary, CEO of The Baby Box Co, which is supplying the Trust with the baby boxes for free said, “We are delighted to provide the baby boxes to the Trust for UK parents and look forward to the results of the trial.”