Here's why American parents are now ditching expensive cribs for a simple, cardboard box.
Gibraltar. Malta. Lichtenstein. These are a few of the places with better infant mortality rates than the good old U.S. of A.
Don't get me wrong, the U.S. is pretty good overall at the pivotal task of keeping young children alive. But we're still lagging behind a number of nations, including those at the very top of the list, like Singapore, Sweden, and Finland, just to name a few.
One of the biggest problems new parents in developed nations face is SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, which is exactly as frightening and unpredictable as it sounds.
Experts can't always pinpoint the cause of every death from SIDS, but more often than not, it has to do with unsafe sleeping environments that accidentally cut off the baby's air supply with blankets, toys, or other obstructions.
For years now, many of the world's leading countries in this area have had a secret weapon in the fight against SIDS: cardboard boxes.
Or "baby boxes" as they're known.
The simple, unadorned box acts as the absolute perfect place for a new baby to sleep.
Baby isnt due for another 8 weeks, but we are practicing being a big brother now! Nothing goes in the box but baby. Thank you, The Baby Box Co! #babyboxuniversity #safesleep #cambridgepregnancyresourcecentre
A post shared by Krysti Beckett (@krystibaconator) on
It all started in Finland, and once people caught on to the program's unprecedented success in lowering infant mortality rates, it spread to Canada, the U.K., and beyond.
Finally, baby boxes have arrived in America.
New parents in New Jersey and San Francisco can now get a free baby box just by completing an online educational program.
Anyone, anywhere can buy a box for themselves or a friend, but San Francisco and New Jersey have become some of the first places in the United States to partner with the Baby Box Company to give out the boxes for free to parents who spend a little time online learning how to prevent SIDS.
The program goes against our nature, which might be why it's taken so long to catch on here. After all, every new parent wants the nursery to be perfect. The perfect crib, decor, bedding, maybe cute little crib bumpers that tie it all together.
But the safest thing for a newborn baby truly is an obstruction-free box.
The baby box program is about so much more than just safe sleep, though.
The boxes also come with a handful of essentials, like diapers, wipes, and a few other things you'll need to get through baby's first weeks.
Baby Lewis in his box! #BabyBoxUniversity https://t.co/Vr9mQ04pSK— Tracy Lagervall (@Tracy Lagervall) 1488040296.0
This kind of basic support is immensely important. One of the universal truths of parenting is that leaving the hospital with your newborn is a massive shock because you quickly realize you are now completely on your own. There's no instruction manual to tell you what to do.
Then there's affordability. Some parents just can't afford a state of the art crib right away, and having a starter supply of diapers, clothes, and other items can be a huge help while they adjust to their new budget-busting baby.
"I don't have to spend crazy money on a bassinet, and when baby has outgrown it, I can give it away, use it for storage, or recycle it. It's incredibly practical," says Krysti, a mom from Canada.
The baby box coming to America is great news because it might be about to get a lot harder to be a parent in the United States.
In its current form, Trumpcare — the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act — threatens the existence of Planned Parenthood along with gutting access to vital services like breastfeeding support and STD screenings, all of which can negatively affect infant survival rates.
Free baby boxes for new parents may seem like a simple idea, but its impact could be huge, and it couldn't come at a better time.
If we want to make America "great again," taking care of parents and children would be a good start.