DENVER -- Every year about 3,500 infants die from sleep related incidents in this country. Now local public health officials are hoping to bring those numbers down by distributing cardboard boxes for babies to sleep in.
Hundreds of the boxes were given out for free at the Baby and Kids Experience Expo in Denver. Now other partners like Denver Public Health will develop a plan to give out the rest.
The baby sleep boxes are about the size of a bassinet and can be used in the parents’ room. The boxes have a firm mattress that fits snugly into the box. The baby should sleep on its back without any other objects like blankets or pillows.
This may sound odd to people in this country, but the baby boxes have been used for decades in places like Finland and have helped to drastically reduce the infant mortality rate.
“Sharing a room, but never a bed, is what reduces sleep death,” said Kellie Teter, the Maternal Child Health Program Manager at Denver Public Health. Infant sleep deaths are now the leading cause of death for children in Colorado, outpacing motor vehicle deaths.
Kellie believes this is a safe option for parents. “It seems safe. It seems do-able, and then people really like the idea that they can put the box nearby the bed, or if you wanted you could put the box on the bed and give the baby a safe place to sleep right next to you, but not sharing the same surface with you, which is what’s so dangerous," Teter said.
Some people use bassinets or pack n’ play systems in the bedroom, but those can be expensive. This is another option for parents in those early months.