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Baby Boxes: The Latest Parenting Trend Raises Safety Concerns

Providing cardboard boxes for infants to snooze in is no new concept.

The practice of sending a new baby home with a substitute crib has been in practice in countries like Finland since the 1930's. Every expectant mother in that country receives a box for their baby and a fitted mattress to place in the bottom of the "baby box." The idea is that this gift can help to cut down on "cot deaths" or SIDS as we better know it. The problem is there is no actual data that states that these cardboard cots cut down on SIDS. Still, many support the interesting idea, and no one can complain that they didn't have a safe space for their baby when a suitable, albeit temporary, one is being placed in their hands right?

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These baby boxes are catching on in other countries such as Great Britain, but some experts aren't entirely convinced of their power. Professor Peter Blair at the University of Bristol and his academic partners argue that more evidence is needed to support the efficacy of cardboard cots. They also claim that the boxes have some drawbacks, including poor sightlines from baby to parent and an ineffective means of quality airflow. Other problems include the inclusion of flammable lids, and a tendency to be placed on low floors where other humans and animals can easily get to a helpless newborn baby. If parents set the boxes up high, they can fall off of counters or adult sleeping surfaces. Basically, it's too easy to move the box and the baby around.

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Once babies grow older than three months old, they become too large for the baby boxes, yet some parents continue to use them as a permanent crib-like space. This, of course, was never the intention of the baby box.

While the boxes are probably a better sleeping solution than a soft bed full of adults, they aren't required to meet the same safety requirements as cribs, bassinets, play yards, and infant carriers. In the end, these are the safest spaces that a parent can provide their newborn baby with.

For now, the jury continues to be hung on baby boxes. There are huge supporters of the movement as well as those who need more factual convincing of their ability to keep infants safe.

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