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.

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.

#babyvan 💙#babyboxuniversity #sleepsafe #3weeksold

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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.

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.

Beautiful boy #babyboxco #babyboxuniversity #babybox #baby #safesleep #babiesofinstagram #ruben #boy

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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.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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On February 19, 2020, a group of outdoor adventurists took a 25-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. During the trip, they had no cell service and no contact with the outside world. When they ended they ended their journey on March 14, the man who pulled them ashore asked if they had been in touch with anyone else. When the rafters said no, the man sighed, then launched into an explanation of how the globe had been gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and everything had come to a screeching halt.

The rafters listened with bewilderment as they were told about toilet paper shortages and the NBA season being canceled and everyone being asked to stay at home. One of the river guides, who had done these kinds of off-grid excursions multiple times, said that they'd often joke about coming back to a completely different world—it had just never actually happened before.

The rafters' story was shared in the New York Times last spring, but they're not the only ones to have had such an experience.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less