A pioneering hospital is hoping to reduce the number of infants that die from cot death – by giving mum free cribs made out of cardboard boxes.
The west London hospital is the first in the country to give new mums ‘baby boxes’ – filled with nappies, clothes and other necessities.
Heavy-duty boxes being handed out by Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital also double as a crib.
The idea, which originated in Finland, gives new parents a helping hand, because the box can be used as a bed for the first eight months of their lives.
Britain has some of the highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22nd out of 50 European countries, with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births.
There’s a strong suggestion that unlike a Moses basket, or a cot, the boxes prevent babies from rolling onto their tummies, where they are more at risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, said: “For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality.”
The baby box tradition in Finland is believed to have helped cut infant mortality rates in the country from 65 per 1000 in 1938, to 2.3 in 2015.
Now 800 new mums giving birth at the hospital are each being given a box, complete with a firm foam mattress, a waterproof mattress cover, a cotton sheet.
The boxes, which will be given out on a first come first serve basis until June, come with expert advice on how to reduce the risk of cot death.
Jennifer Clary, CEO of The Baby Box Co, which is supplying the Trust, said: “We are delighted to provide the baby boxes to the Trust for UK parents and look forward to the results of the trial.”
The “baby box” mums will be monitored by the Trust until they are eight months old.
Dr Joash, added: “These boxes and the education resources that sit alongside them have been proven to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland and we hope that these results could be replicated in the UK.”