New ‘Baby Box’ Program In New Jersey Aims To Reduce Infant Mortality

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new program starting Thursday in New Jersey aims to help reduce infant mortality rates. Those who complete a child safety survey will receive a free box of childcare items — and the box itself has a dual purpose.

Jennifer Clary, CEO of The Baby Box Company explains her company is working with New Jersey officials to offer new parents a box of essential baby items. The durable cardboard box then doubles as a crib for the child’s first six months.

“We’re going to be partnering to actually ensure that every expecting mother has access to a free baby box,” Clary said. “It’s something that we can provide for every infant under the age of 6 months; and if you’re familiar with SIDS incidents, 90% of cases actually happen in that time period.”

She says the baby box idea originated in Finland, where receiving a government-subsidized free baby box is a rite of passage for new parents.

“I visit with lots of families and I’ve noticed that regardless of where you fall on the socio-economic scale, everyone can use a hand,” Clary said.

The main focus is teaching parents about infant safety. She says New Jersey families are only eligible for the box after completing an online safety survey.

“This is a wonderful engagement tool to get parents excited about learning about safe sleep,” Clary said, “but also learning about their pre-existing local resources.”

Dr. Kathie McCans, who championed the grant to bring the baby box program to New Jersey, says even she learned new safety information.

“The box is wonderful and it’s adorable, but it’s the education; because we need to change care takers’ knowledge about what constitutes safe sleep.” McCans said. “And if I as a pediatrician didn’t know all that I should have known or could have known, than I can only imagine that others don’t necessarily have that knowledge, either.”

New Jersey parents interested in receiving a free baby box can sign up and complete a safety survey at babyboxuniversity.com

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