wishful thinking

When Will We Get Our Baby Boxes, Washington?

A baby box you can purchase.
A baby box you can purchase. Photo: babyboxco.com

Some lucky Canadian families will get to test the extremely efficient Finnish tradition of giving new moms a supplies-filled box that doubles as a crib for the first few months of the baby’s life. Why do we not have these multiuse vessels in America?

The program in Finland began in 1938 as a way to ensure that children from low-income families get an equal start in life. It’s been credited with lowering the country’s infant mortality rate. Now, researchers at the University of Calgary are kicking off a study to see if these baby boxes, along with increased parenting support, can help improve the health and well-being of vulnerable kids in the province of Alberta.

For a project called Welcome to Parenthood, 1,500 first-time moms will pick up their boxes a few months before their due date and get linked up with a parent mentor. The customized boxes come from California-based the Baby Box Co. and are made possible by a government grant. In addition to onesies, toys, and a tiny mattress, they’ll contain an online video program with answers to parents’ questions, a brain-developing children’s book, and info for dads about paternal bonding. Researchers will also check in on the parents to see how they’re adjusting to life with a newborn.

While there’s nothing of this scale planned in the United States, there is a small pilot study in San Antonio, Texas, where a hospital will give boxes to 135 moms who need financial support in an effort to reduce sudden infant death due to poor sleeping conditions.

But how amazing would it be if this became a national, government-funded initiative? It’s an election year, a great time to ask for change, and we think we know exactly which presidential candidate is most likely to give everyone boxes in which to put their babies.