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‘Baby Box’ program in NB promotes safe sleep for infants

Click to play video 'Baby boxes introduced in New Brunswick to reduce infant mortality' Baby boxes introduced in New Brunswick to reduce infant mortality
WATCH ABOVE: A baby box starter kit with roots in Finland is now available to new parents in New Brunswick. As Global's Shelley Steeves reports, pre and post natal groups are handing out the boxes to encourage safe sleep for babies – Feb 3, 2017

A baby “sleeping box” for newborns, aimed at reducing infant mortality rates, is now available for free to new parents in New Brunswick.

READ MORE: ‘Baby Box’ program launches in Nova Scotia

“The Baby Box” is a colourful cardboard box that has been approved by Health Canada to be used as a bassinet providing a safe place to sleep without stuffed toys, pillows, excess blankets or other things that could possibly harm them when sleeping. The boxes are supplied by The Baby Box Co.

The boxes are now being handed out at the Early Childhood Family Resource Centre in Dieppe, N.B., as well as other distribution centres in the province.

Natalie Leslie, a pre and postnatal counselor at the centre, said a lot of families are choosing to co-sleep by bringing their child into their bed with them, but it’s something she said the Canadian Pediatric Society doesn’t recommend. “The Baby Box,” she said, provides an alternative.

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“So the box can be set on the floor right next to your bed,” Leslie said. “So you are still in the same room and you are still close with you baby but your baby is not at risk of suffocation.”

New mother Sandi LeBlanc said she picked up her baby box because wanted to be able to sleep with her daughter Aleah in the bedroom, but did not feel safe co-sleeping with her baby girl.

“I think it’s a great idea, I mean it is a safe place to sleep in,” said LeBlanc, who gave birth four months ago.  “She seems to enjoy it and it’s multipurpose after the fact right. When she can’t sleep in it we can turn it into a little toy box for her.”

READ MORE: Calls for a ‘baby box’ program in Saskatchewan

In New Brunswick, the boxes are not being paid for by the province, a spokesperson for Craft Public Relations (PR) – which handles PR for the company –said in an email.

“The Baby Box Co. is an education company that views investment in physical resources – such as Baby Boxes – and their mass distribution as a thoughtful customer acquisition expense to encourage parental usage of Baby Box University,” Linda Yahya said.

“There are private investors who also share this vision who help fund the program.”

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Baby Box University

Leslie said she loved the idea of the box so much she recently started handing out the boxes to her clients in the Greater Moncton area.

She said the baby boxes are easy to assemble and are available for free as long as parents complete an online education program. Parents can register on the Baby Box Co. website.

“It’s a New Brunswick syllabus so they will learn things like safe sleep among other parenting tips,” Leslie said.

Leslie said most babies grow out of the box by the time they reach six months old.

According to Baby Box Co., the concept first originated as a Finnish tradition more than 75 years ago due to a spike in infant mortality rates in Finland. At the time, it was one of the highest rates in the world.  The boxes were given to new parents offering babies a safe place to sleep. The country now has one of the lowest rates on Earth.

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