The first state to start offering free Baby Boxes was New Jersey. Included in the baby box program—launched to help new mums and babies—are diapers, wipes, a onesie, socks, a teether, activity chart, breast cream, breast pads, and a firm mattress the size of the box. Ohio quickly followed the lead, and on Wednesday, Alabama joined in.

Sudden death in infants

Shortened as SIDS, the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the major cause of death among babies ages one month to one year. Alabama has an unusually high Infant Mortality Rate of 8.3 infants every 1,000 births, whereas the national average, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is 5.8.

Infant deaths started to decrease in the 1990s with the introduction of a national safe sleep campaign, but it has risen since then. In 2015, about 1,600 infants died from SIDS. This number is expected to decrease with the baby boxes.

How to get a baby box

The three states get their boxes from Baby Box Co, a company based in California. New Jersey’s expecting parents can go to Garden State to pick up their packs, after registering for a free pack at the Baby Box University. A short course on parenting is to be completed before the boxes are delivered or sent out to a pickup area. The other two states have similar requirements for baby box recipients, who would find information on safe-sleep practices in their box.

The boxes are also sold to the public available for people outside of Ohio, Alabama, or New Jersey.

Baby boxes’ success

The baby boxes in Finland was a symbol of the success the country achieved in efforts to reduce infant mortality. In the United States, these boxes are not endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but their association with Finland’s low infant mortality rates seem to be a well-received knowledge.

It is unclear if the baby boxes alone were the reason for the low rates, or if better care for mothers and babies as well as other factors contributed to the development. Medical experts have differing opinions on whether or not to use baby boxes, but everyone agrees that safe sleep is vital for babies.

More care for safer sleep

There are a number of things, other than boxes, to keep track of to reduce infant mortality rates. The AAP suggests babies sleep in the same room as their parents, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin care, to help protect them against SIDS. Parents should create a safe sleeping environment by:

  • Placing baby on the back, on a firm surface.
  • Avoiding bedding and soft toys – the crib is better left bare.
  • Letting babies sleep on a separate surface for a year.
  • Avoiding exposure to alcohol, smokes, and illicit drugs.