In my humble opinion, any initiative that raises awareness of SIDS is not to be ignored. In the UK, sadly 300 babies a year pass away due to unexplained death and these numbers could potentially be avoided by putting simple (but effective) guidelines in place to protect your baby.
The Baby Boxes (popularised in Finland that have been given to the new member of a family since the 1930’s) had been rolled out in Scotland for all babies born after August this year, but now (as with many topics surrounding babies and parenting) there seems to be a new voice of doubt from researchers; particularly Professor Peter Blair from Bristol University, who have penned a letter to the British Medical Journal to suggest baby boxes should only be used as a temporary measure and are not necessarily any safer than cots (as there is no evidence as yet to suggest that they minimise the numbers of babies that die from SIDS.)
I believe any sensible parent will realise that these boxes are not suitable long term and are certainly not a “substitute”- more an additional item in the Baby arsenal! Babies grow so fast even for regular sleep environments (bassinets/Moses baskets.) Prof Blair says the boxes are too small for babies over 3 months old but I highly suspect parents will not be attempting to jam their quarter of a year olds into what is essentially a cardboard box!!! Clearly they are not fit for purpose at this point, just like other traditional products so this seems like a rather pointless argument!
I believe the Royal College of Midwives understand the real value to these baby boxes. These pieces of kit could be invaluable to parents (particularly in more economically deprived areas) who may not be able to provide their child a cot straight away. There is no surprise there is a causal link between SIDS and poverty. Baby boxes give the opportunity for “an equal start in life” – as they have done in Finland for decades. This duty of care to new patents is a refreshing notion and I think it is important for new mothers to feel supported and that they have been provided tools to be responsible and loving caregivers.
My post today is in response to this mornings piece covered by BBC News here.
(Other BBC articles about Finnish Baby Boxes- 2nd August 2018 and August 15th 2018.)
I fully understand that any healthcare scheme requires rigorous testing and on one hand support that it is useful to get a better understanding of how families are using these boxes and any safety implications, but I more strongly believe (that as a Mother) you can’t really gain insight or perspective from science alone.
If just one at-risk Baby is saved by this initiative then I would describe Baby Boxes as an overall success. As a parent of loss, I can categorically confirm that nothing has ever (or I suspect shall ever) be as painful as losing a child. Our Nordic/Scandi European cousins are certainly socially more advanced and this impacts on excellent overall wellbeing. Finland has very low numbers of SIDS death, although this can’t be solely attributed to the boxes I think the levels of compassion and care available for families is undoubtedly contributing to a healthier and happier society and thriving children.
The bizarre arguments against baby boxes include: low airflow because of the high sides, parents having to look directly over the box to view child, flammable lids, risk from pets and siblings when boxes are left on the floor and questionable durability in wet and cold.
Now correct me if I am wrong but a) the box containing sleeping child will not be exposed to the elements/left outside to get wet and cold. b) if there is a risk of fire a cot will be just as susceptible to flame damage as a cardboard box. c) a responsible parent will not leave a child sleeping unattended for long periods of time and would be checking on their child regardless of what they were sleeping in and how the visible the material surrounding their child may be.
I was blown away by the Baby Box offerings whilst looking into essential baby products: in particular the My First Baby Box as it seemed the best value for money compared to other brands (although I did fall in love the Moomin design Finnish Baby Box as it is so whimsical and reminded me of my own childhood love of the Moomins!!) There is a link to it in case you have been inspired to go #ProBabyBox and enhance your babies first few, formative weeks as part of their new family unit.
It is quite obvious that there has not yet been enough time utilising this initiative to have any quantitative data available, but until such time as there is a fatality that is a direct consequence of a box, I see no harm in enjoying the potential benefits of a Baby Box and I hope that this post will also get parents talking about the very real and tragic consequences of SIDS. It is good practice to have any scheme in place (whether it is successful in itself or not) that gets people talking about how best they can protect their baby.
Here are some potentially lifesaving tips to minimise the risk of SIDS-
1) Sleep baby on their back (not side or tummy.) If they roll over and you are able to do so return them to the back sleeping position.
2) Ensure the head and face are uncovered. (Be mindful of a Safe Sleep environment- no loose fitting sheets blankets, avoid using cot bumpers and make sure sleep space is not cluttered with teddies or cushions.)
3) If possible keep your home a smoke free area.
4) Put baby to bed in their own, safe environment and ideally in the same room as caregiver for the first 6-12 months.
5) If possible it is great to breastfeed baby in early weeks. (Obviously this may be a contentious point. I am not suggesting that formula fed babies are at more risk of SIDS but there is research that suggests breastfeeding may prevent SIDS for the immune benefits that can not be replaced by formula.)
I think a debate about the benefits of a Baby Box is not required at this point in time. They have been championed by health professionals and at this moment in time are considered safe and have benefits that outweigh any negatives so far. I will be keeping an eye out for any information that suggests there has been no benefit to them but any awareness that improves the care of our children can only be seen as a good thing and I think Prof Blair forgets the human element; that these boxes are creating confident caregivers and providing the best possible sleep environment if homes are not equipped for a newborn.
Would you use a Baby Box as a sleep environment for your little one? Have you personally used a Baby Box? (I would love to see pictures of them in use and any testimonials are greatly appreciated).
– Bea’s Mummy x
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