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 đź’™#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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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