For Jernica Quiñones, the reality of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, hit close to home this year when a friend woke up on New Year’s Day and discovered the lifeless body of her baby girl.
That’s why Quiñones’ 4-month-old son, Bless’n, has spent a lot of his life so far sleeping in a cardboard box.
The 33-year-old mother of five took part in a program in New Jersey that promotes safe sleep education through the distribution of “baby boxes” that double as bassinets.
“Some mothers can’t buy a Pack-n-Play or a crib,” Quiñones says. And that can lead to bed sharing, a risk factor for SIDS.
The program is a riff on Finland’s well-known baby box, or maternity package, which the government gives to expectant mothers who get a prenatal checkup: It’s the box, plus clothing, blankets and other supplies.
Now that Finnish model is making inroads in the U.S., but with a twist. Instead of being a prenatal incentive, it’s being used to deliver a postpartum safe sleep message.
This week, Alabama will join Ohio and New Jersey in making free baby boxes available to the families of all newborns in the state. Parents watch online videos about SIDS and safe sleep and complete a short quiz. They can pick up a box at a local distribution center or have it mailed to them. The sturdy, portable box comes with a firm foam mattress and tight-fitting sheet; also included are breastfeeding accessories, a onesie, diapers and wipes.
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