1. ITV Report

'Baby Boxes' to be handed out to new parents in the Midlands

The 'Baby Box' is an idea which originated in Finland. Credit: ITV News Central

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust is issuing Finnish-style 'Baby Boxes' to parents for their newborns to sleep in.

The Baby Box tradition, which originates from Finland, has been credited with reducing the infant mortality rate in the country from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015. The UK has some of highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22nd out of the 50 European countries with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births*.

The Baby Boxes are made from cardboard and come with a mattress, waterproof mattress cover and 100% cotton sheet. They are traditionally used in Finland as an infant’s bed for up to the first six months of their life.

Since 1991 the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) in the UK has dropped by 75% and more than 10,000 babies who would have died have survived. We now know that all babies must be put to sleep on their back, with feet to the end of their sleep space, whether it be an EN Standard compliant Baby Box, bassinet, or crib. There is strong evidence from Finland that the Baby Box may further prevent deaths caused by SID.

The trust is also given advice on accessing the Baby Box University website which offers advice on how to use the Baby Box and advice on reducing the risk of cot death.

The Baby Box also comes with many items to help new parents taking their new baby home for the first time. Credit: Baby Box

Elaine Newell, Director of Midwifery at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said:

"This programme offers so much more than a free bed to baby. It is the Baby Box University which offers such an exciting resource, as we can target our educational short films directly to the population we serve, and the films are all of our own staff, so we can talk directly to our families.”

Young mum-to-be Katie Webb lost her baby daughter in March this year aged only 17 days.

She recalled:“I’ve gone back over the day before and absolutely nothing stood out. She watched me tidying the room, and had a good feed before I changed her nappy and we had a cuddle. I put her down to sleep and sang her a nursery rhyme. I had looked for nursery rhymes online so I could sing to her. She snuggled down and went to sleep. I remember waking up and thinking it was unusual she hadn’t woken me, then when I looked at her and touched her I knew something was badly wrong. The rest of it is very hazy. I can’t describe what happened then.

All I know is I lost my baby girl, and I want her back. My birthday was in August, and I remember thinking, there is nothing in the world I want for my birthday, all I want is to have her warm in my arms.

“The Baby Box is very, very close to my heart. I am expecting my baby son in March next year, so anything that will help me keep him safe is good.”