The thought of a baby sleeping in a cardboard box sounds preposterous, but it’s actually a great idea. The practice started decades ago in Finland to help babies sleep safely. The baby boxes are designed to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs). Sudden unexpected infant death is a broad category that also includes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), strangulation and accidental suffocation that come from bassinets or cribs filled with stuffed animals, blankets and other objects.
Infant sleep advocates promote the ABC’s of safe sleep: alone, on their back, and in a crib. The cardboard box cribs further these safe sleep requirements. The cardboard cribs are too small for other children or stuffed animals or other articles, the babies are easily put on their backs, and the baby is sleeping in a crib with a hard surface.
Research has shown that babies are safer when sleeping alone. Other objects in the crib or sleeping area pose hazards that can only compromise the baby’s airway. Research and practice has also shown that sudden infant death syndrome is reduced when babies are put to sleep on their backs. Finally, a firm surface is also desirable.
Our Washington Administrative Code provisions for reducing the risk of SIDS for in-home daycare providers are outlined in WAC 170–296A–7100. They require that infants be placed to sleep on their backs on a clean firm and snug fitting mattress. Moreover, fluffy bedding, stuffed toys pillows and crib bumpers are not allowed in the sleeping area per Washington law.
The Finland model, which has been adopted statewide by New Jersey and Ohio to provide cardboard cribs, is an excellent way to protect our precious infants. Prospective mothers can register through babyboxuniversity.com to obtain a cardboard crib, watch videos on safe sleep practices and take a short quiz to test their knowledge. When it comes to keeping one’s infant children safe, any investment in more knowledge can prove invaluable and may even save your child’s life.
Ken Selander is a personal injury attorney with a focus on daycare cases and injuries. He is also a board member of the non-profit Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance (NISSA). Please contact Ken at 206-723-8200 to schedule your free legal consultation.