New parents in New Jersey will soon be going home with a "baby box" that's filled with essentials and doubles as a newborn's bed. The first-in-the-nation program is intended to educate parents and reduce deaths by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the Philly Voice reports. Funded by a grant from the CDC, the state intends to distribute 105,000 cardboard boxes to parents who sign up online and take a course. The kits come packed with diapers, wipes, breast pads, a onesie, and other supplies. Take those goodies out and a mattress and fitted sheet double as baby's first bed, per Babble. Temple University tested the program last year in a trial in collaboration with the LA-based maker Baby Box Company, which runs similar initiatives in 12 countries.
Putting newborns to bed in a box is nothing new in Finland, which has been doing it since 1938, per the BBC. The practice is credited with reducing infant mortality there to the world's lowest rate, 1.3 deaths per 1,000. The US ranks 23rd, with 6.5 deaths per 1,000. The idea seems to be catching on. Scotland began handing out boxes to new parents on Jan. 1, and Alberta, Canada, is testing the idea, per the Independent. Dr. Kathie McCans, who pushed for the New Jersey initiative, calls the boxes "adorable," but says education is the focus. The compact space is safer for little ones, though many people might not know that. "We need to change care takers’ knowledge about what constitutes safe sleep," she tells CBS Philly. (Interested parents can sign up here.)