New Jersey to be first US state to offer new parents baby boxes

New parents in New Jersey will not only bring their bundles of joy home from the hospital, they’ll also get a baby box. The boxes, which promote safe sleeping, are part of an effort to improve infant mortality rates.

The United States has a high infant mortality rate— 6.5 infant deaths per 1,000 births, ranking it 23rd in the world. In 2016, 93 percent of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) were associated with sleep complications, Philly Voice reported.

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With the program’s launch on Thursday, New Jersey becomes the first state to offer a universal baby box program for residents. The program is a partnership of The Baby Box Company, and the state’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board.

Baby boxes are durable cardboard boxes fitted with mattresses to function as a bassinet for the first couple of months of a baby’s life. The boxes will come filled with newborn essentials such as diapers, a onesie, baby wipes and breast pads, Philly Voice reported.

The concept of baby boxes originated in Finland about 80 years ago and the country’s infant mortality rate is the world’s lowest, at 1.3 deaths per 1,000 births, Philly Voice reported.

Expectant New Jersey parents must first register online to join the program, review a curriculum on newborn care, and take a quiz. They’re then given the option to pick up the baby box or have it delivered to their home.

In May 2016, Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia launched a newborn safety program to give baby boxes to new parents.