Since January, New Jersey, Ohio and Alabama have become the first states to distribute free cardboard boxes that babies up to about 6 months old can safely sleep in instead of a crib.
The box allows baby to sleep in the same room with parents without sleeping in the same bed. And while it is available to everyone, it might be especially valuable for parents who can’t afford a crib or a bassinet.
The states are working with the California-based Baby Box Co., which is spearheading the project. A nonprofit called Babies Need Boxes is supporting the effort and hopes to see it replicated nationwide, says Danielle Selassie, executive director of Babies Need Boxes.
The idea of babies sleeping in a box until they are old enough to climb out was born in Finland in the 1930s, when the government there began a program to give them to all babies to combat infant sleep-related deaths, such as SIDS.
To get a box in the participating states, parents need to complete an online video education class about 15 to 20 minutes long at babyboxuniversity.com.
The educational component is the most important part of the program, Selassie says. “The boxes in of themselves aren’t magical,” she says. They are, however, safe, portable and convenient, and they come with a mattress and fitted sheet and are filled with products for newborns.