Firstly, this post is not sponsored. I qualified to receive a free Baby Box from the Government of Alberta and wanted to share my thoughts with you all!
When I first heard about the Baby Box, which must have been on the news when I was only listening with one ear, I honestly assumed it was a program put into place strictly for expecting women who were either low-income or didn’t have suitable housing or safe living conditions in place. In a nutshell, that is basically what the program is all about, but it piqued my interested when I heard that it was actually available to everyone. Why everyone when anyone with a crib or bassinet surely wouldn’t opt to tuck their infant into a box at night instead?
I’m about to tell you why!
The baby box was first implemented during a time when infant mortality rates were at an all time high in Finland. The government began giving them out to low-income families, then years later extended it to all expectant parents because of it’s success. Finland now has the lowest infant mortality rate and credits the Baby Box with helping to reduce rates from 65 deaths in every 1,000 babies born to 1.7. So the proof is obviously in the pudding that something about it is working. The program is still in place and wildly successful there and the theory has spread to other parts of the globe. Canada has followed suit and parts of the country have funded a program to make it available to all parents with a baby on the way. In Alberta babies born between October 1, 2016 and October 1, 2017 qualify for a free Baby Box. The point of the initiative is to educate parents on providing a safe sleep environment for their baby, and to equip them with the means to do so.
To be frank, I’m sure a lot of people are thinking that the idea of literally putting their baby in a cardboard box is a little backwards and unnatural. This is especially likely considering the child-rearing generation now has a long list of ‘must-haves’ laid out for us by the baby gear manufacturers leading us to believe the more bells and whistles the thing has, the easier our parenting days will be. We’re supposed to be moving forward, not back, right? Of course, it’s nice to have a swing that glides itself so we can sneak a 10 minute shower in during the day, but I’m starting to see how the simplicity of this box is actually getting a point across.
The founder of Baby Box Co. flat out said that it isn’t the box itself that’s reducing infants deaths, it’s the parenting education that goes along with it. I can understand that because when I brought it home and emptied it out, I stared at was is literally just a rectangular box with a little foam mattress inside. I actually laughed because the idea of putting Harlow inside seemed so silly. But I get it. I can see how this is showing parents that a baby doesn’t need much more than a small safe space to sleep. It’s that simple – just like the box itself.
Now before all of you moms crinkle your nose at the thought of trading in your mama-roos, battery-operated rockers or helper monkeys for a cardboard box, realize that that’s not the point here. And trust me, I’m not getting rid of mine either.
After doing a little bit of research on its success and why governments are starting to fund initiatives (which says a lot), I learned that it’s because a lot of parents don’t actually know what is safe and what isn’t. Not everyone is equipped with a free education on infant safety from the older women in their lives, or showered with all the essentials and more in one afternoon. So if that basic knowledge and the necessities needed were made available it’s very possible that a number of these accidents could be avoided. For seasoned parents I think it’s important not to compare the Baby Box to sleep ‘aids’ like those that I mentioned, in order to fully appreciate this concept. This is about the safest sleep, not the easiest or longest-lasting, remember. Since this little ol’ box has quite the history and has done the trick for decades, it’s almost fitting that this back-to-basics theory is resurfacing. Especially with such success in reducing infant mortality rates, which is really incredible. The spokespeople behind the Alberta program said that it’s a way of giving every baby the same start in life which I just love.
- baby box mattress (certified non-toxic and meets Canadian health standards)
- 100% cotton fitted mattress sheet
- wood teething ring
- small pack of Pamper’s newborn diapers
- sample pack of Pamper’s sensitive wipes
- zippered tote bag
- gender neutral onesie (which I have to mention is extremely soft!)
- “Inspired” magazine packed with local resources, businesses and parenting articles
Another really major part of the program is using the Box itself as a gateway to give parents additional information. There’s information on what resources are available for things like postpartum depression, birth photography & doula services (you can grab your free box before you little one arrives!) and even some background on an Edmonton Spa with in-house childcare!
This being my second baby I have a few options for a safe sleep environment in my home already. We have a playpen that we normally use to travel, and we used a dock-a-tot for the first few weeks because Harlow wouldn’t sleep anywhere else. No, I wouldn’t put my child in a box on the floor vs any of our pre-existing options. But if I didn’t have those things, this safe sleep option would be a gift for any baby. Having said that, I still actually really like the idea of this in a few different short-term situations I can think of. If we were ever staying somewhere away from home and the play pen either wouldn’t fit or just seemed like so much work for just one night, I would rather bring a lightweight box instead of a 40lb playpen in a heartbeat! If anyone was ever babysitting for us for a short period of time, and again, packing up the playpen seemed like a pain, I am far more comfortable knowing she would be sleeping in this rather than lying on a bed – especially knowing that my toddler can now scale our super high bed now, no problem. I also like having another safe sleep option for our friend’s babies when they visit if the crib is already occupied!
I thought I would pick up my Baby Box, share it with you guys and end up donating the majority of it, but I’m pleasantly surprise to say that I’m using almost everything! If Harlow hadn’t outgrown newborn diapers by the time I got it (we donated those to the food bank), we would have used everything it came with. I removed the little mattress and I use it on the floor in the living room during the day. I used to layer a blanket on the area rug before lying Harlow down, but now I just plop the mattress pad down and she instantly has a comfy spot to stretch and play and I LOVE it. I’m giving it bonus points because the pad is waterproof. The box I’ve filled with some of the girls’ things and placed it in the storage room where it’s handy if I need to empty and use it. The blue bag is Lyric’s new ‘purse’, the teether I’m keeping close by and Harlow has worn the onesie twice already. I’ve also read through the magazine and really liked that everything in it was useful information and specific to my area.
So I’m thoroughly impressed by the Baby Box and everything in it! If you’re expecting between now and October, or gave birth since October 1, 2016, I highly suggest getting yours! Here’s how:
getting your baby box
Go here, make an account, then follow the instructions. You have to watch eight (I think) one-minute videos then take a short quiz. Once you’ve finished you get a printable “Baby Box University Certificate” which you’ll turn in when you pick up your box. You can find distributors in Alberta here and contact them about pick up. I got mine through Jeanine at Park City Doulas in Ardrossan / Sherwood Park and she was really great.