A cardboard box may not look like a traditional cot for a newborn – but they are credited with cutting infant deaths and now local mums have the chance to try the unusual beds for free.
Hundreds of women who give birth at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in White City will receive the baby boxes for their newborns as part of an innovative pilot project.
Made of thick cardboard and smaller than a traditional Moses basket or cot, the baby boxes are being handed out to 800 new mums at the maternity unit in Du Cane Road, along with a mattress, waterproof mattress cover and cotton sheet.
And although they are new in the UK, the baby boxes are part and parcel of family life in Finland, where it is thought their use has contributed to a dramatic reduction in infant deaths.
Queen Charlotte’s – part of the Imperial College Healthcare Trust – has been giving out the boxes to mums since 29 June and will monitor their babies for the next eight months, as well as providing advice from health experts.
Dr Karen Joash, the Trust’s consultant obstetrician who is leading the baby box trial, said the UK’s current infant mortality rate of 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births – which ranks it 22nd out of 50 European countries – needed tackling.
“For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality,” she explained.
“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.”
It is thought the small size of the baby box – about 68cm by 42.5cm - prevents babies from rolling onto their tummies, which experts think can contribute to sudden infant death syndrome.
The boxes also come with membership to the ‘Baby Box University’, which is an educational service of videos, e-books, articles, expert advice and forums to help raise awareness of reducing the risk of infant deaths.
Pilot programmes are already under way in Canada, the US and Australia with the £52 boxes, which are being supplied for free by The Baby Box Co to Imperial College Healthcare Trust.
Jennifer Clary, one of the founders of of The Baby Box Co, said she was “delighted to provide the baby boxes to the Trust for UK parents”.
“We look forward to the results of the trial,” she added.