Virginia Now Provides ‘Baby Boxes’ to New Parents

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We’ve all have all heard the advice: you’re not supposed to sleep with your newborn baby.

The CDC, in 2015, estimated that 900 infants died from preventable sleep-related accidents.

Virginia is now kicking off a safe sleep initiative, starting with a unique practice that began in Finland: baby boxes.

“The baby boxes, I think it’s a beautiful thing. I really do,” says Chris Johnson as he lowers his baby girl Jade into,  a cardboard box. For the first few months of her life, Jade slept in a baby box like this one, a firm mattress fit snugly into the bottom.

In Finland, every expectant parent receives one from the government for free, along with education on safe sleeping.

“I think if you look at the experience from Finland where their infant death rate has gone from stratospheric levels down to less than half of the United States infant death rate, something in this combination is working,” says Bill Hazel, Virginia’s Secretary of Health.

Starting this September, every new parent in Virginia will be eligible for a free box of their own. All they have to do is watch an online video and take a short quiz.

The resources will be provided to new parents at no cost to the state by The Baby Box Company. In exchange, they get a new customer base.

“We have an ecommerce shop where we sell things like onesies, extra sheets and accessories, and we have a very loyal following, because we do reach out to them at their prenatal stage,” says Jennifer Clary, founder and CEO. “And parents come back and they shop from us.”

Virginia joins five other states who already provide the service, including Alabama and New Jersey.

In addition, Virginia’s Department of Social Services is launching a study on whether more intensive education can make a difference in death rates. Participants in Richmond will be getting home visits from a pediatric nurse.

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