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Baby boxes to be handed out to new mothers in Essex and Birmingham

Scheme hoped to reduce cot death

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 18 October 2016 10:52 BST
The boxes have been a Finnish tradition for nearly 80 years
The boxes have been a Finnish tradition for nearly 80 years (Baby Box co)

"Baby boxes" are to be handed out to new parents at two major hospitals from this week.

Colchester hospital in Essex and maternity services run by Sandwell & West Birmingham trust will give new mothers the care packages inspired by a long-running Finnish scheme.

The boxes double up as cribs and prevent babies rolling onto their stomachs, which is thought to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

They will also be filled with useful items such as nappies and clothes worth £100 to help parents take care of their newborns.

The hospitals in Essex and Birmingham join Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea hospital, North Middlesex hospital and Merseyside Women's and Children's Services, which implemented the scheme earlier in 2016.

Tracy Baxter, the practice development midwife who is leading the initiative at Colchester Hospital Trust said: "We are so excited to offer this service, which will support and encourage families to adopt safe sleeping practices with their babies and reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

"The antenatal educational programme will allow us to provide accurate and timely information to pregnant women, whilst the Baby Box itself will provide a safe and practical space for the babies to sleep and will be free to all who sign up to the scheme."

It follows Nicola Sturgeon's announcement on Sunday that every baby in Scotland would be given a baby box from 2017.

Ms Sturgeon said the policy would act as a “symbol of a belief in a level playing field” for all children.

In Finland, the boxes have been credited with lowering infant mortality rates dramatically from 65 per 1000 in 1938, to 2.3 in 2015.

A 2013 study found that around 120 baby deaths could be prevented in the UK every year if parents stopped sharing beds with their young children.

Britain has the 22nd highest infant mortality rate out of 50 European countries, according to the World Bank.

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