On Tuesday, the Baby Box Co. launched a statewide program to give away free baby boxes. The organization hopes to to curb infant death rates and provide infants with a healthy start to life.
About 1 in every 200 infants born in Wisconsin dies. Numbers show African American babies die at nearly three times that rate. Unsafe sleeping environments are a significant factor in those deaths.
A baby box is a small, safe sleep space for newborns to spend the night outside their parents’ bed.
In adult beds, soft surfaces like pillows and blankets are choking and suffocation hazards for infants.
Wisconsin is the eighth state to offer its families free boxes through the California-based company. Some states pay for the boxes with government funding, but this program is funded by Baby Box Co.
To get a free baby box, you must register with the Baby Box University program online, watch the Wisconsin course and take a short quiz.
The box will be delivered to your Wisconsin address. Pickup locations are available in Milwaukee.
“I think in Dane County we average about five infants who die from unsafe sleep environments. That is five infants who were healthy and should not have passed,” said Rishelle Eithun, safety and injury prevention coordinator at American Family Children’s Hospital. “If it is one baby, it is too many. We need to make sure that we are educating and working with families to be aware.”
Eithun recommends Pack-n-Plays because they go up to 35 pounds and often have a bassinet piece on top.
The American Family Children’s Hospital offers travel bassinets that are larger than baby boxes.
Eithun said whatever you chose to use, make sure your baby has their own sleeping environment and sleeps on their back, even during naps.
“Keeping the environment completely empty. No pillows, no blankets, no toys really allows for baby, when they are moving, there is no risk of suffocation,” said Eithun.