The Safest Sleep Option for Your Baby May Just Be a Cardboard Box

Mar 23, 2017 at 2:17 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

In an effort to prevent infant deaths, some hospitals are now sending new parents home with the latest in sleep safety technology: a cardboard box.

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According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3,700 U.S. infants died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2015 — and most of these deaths occurred while babies were in an unsafe sleeping environment. And we all know most of the basics when it comes to putting your baby to sleep: share your room with your baby for the first six months, lay your baby down on their back and avoid the urge to adorn the crib with blankets and all those adorable stuffed animals.

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These recommendations are intended to keep your baby from rolling over or becoming suffocated. With that in mind, is the best option to put your baby in an actual box?

Maybe. The boxes, which have been successfully distributed in Finland since the early 1900s, include a firm mattress with tight fitted sheets and are topped with some other newborn essentials, like clothes, hats, and wash cloths. Then you simply take the stuff out and put your baby in. The kid doesn't roll, and you can be at ease. Sounds pretty simple.

The hardest part is probably coming to terms with the fact that you’re letting your precious child sleep in the same thing your latest Amazon shipment arrived in. But when you think about it, these things are stable, cheap and easily portable, making it a viable option for mothers who travel or perhaps cannot afford extravagant baby furniture.

The World Health Organization shows some promising evidence for the potential of baby boxes: following their public introduction in Finland, the country's infant mortality rates dropped from 65 deaths per 1,000 infants in 1938 to 1.3 deaths per 1,000 infants in 2013. This makes for one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates. More research is needed to tell us if the boxes themselves are the actual cause of decrease, but at the very least, the initiative is educating new parents — especially high-risk expectant mothers — about the proper yet simplistic techniques to use to ensure a baby’s well-being.

For now, they’re only found in Ohio and New Jersey. But who knows? With twins on the way, Beyoncé might just be choosing cardboard this time around.

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