You may have seen in the UK media recently a buzz about the Baby Box. Originating from Finland, the first company to really take this concept and put it into production were The Baby Box Company. (Aptly named!)
Shortly after they launched in the US, we were sent one to review for the UK market and we’re proud and honoured to have been the first people in the UK with one of these boxes.
We’re now even more honoured to have had the privilege of exclusively interviewing the founder of The Baby Box Company, Jennifer Clary.
So we ask Jennifer a few questions about the Baby Box:
Q: What is the Baby Box?
A: The Baby Box is a new parent starter kit and safe infant sleep space in one. Baby Boxes were introduced in Finland by the government in the 1930s to help combat the country’s high rate of infant mortality. Today Finland boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, and this has been largely credited to the Baby Box tradition.
Essentially, the product is a durable cardboard box lined with a firm mattress that comes with a waterproof cover and cotton sheet. Many parents actually report that their little ones sleep more soundly in their Baby Boxes than elsewhere, and we’re proud to produce a product that helps mums and dads catch a bit more shut-eye than they otherwise would!
Q: How do Baby Boxes help to decrease infant mortality?
A: I love the Baby Box concept but think the media has a tendency to romanticize and simplify the tradition. Kela, the Finnish social service, should be commended because they established an incredible foundation upon which to build their Baby Box program: every expecting mum in the country has to visit a healthcare facility for prenatal care and basic educational information in order to be eligible for a free Baby Box. This is a fact that frequently gets left out in media coverage, and it’s a shame as this is arguably central to Finland’s statistical success.
It’s not the Baby Box product that decreases infant mortality, it’s the Baby Box program.
What we know is that there are numerous research studies linking increased parenting education to a reduction in infant mortality outcomes, as well as to an increase in breastfeeding, positive nutrition choices, and improvements in maternal mental health. Therefore, my personal philosophy—and our corporate mantra—is to tie Baby Box distribution to parenting education and ongoing community supports to actually have an impact.
Baby Box Co. partners with organizations like the Bezos Family Foundation to bring Baby Box University members cutting edge, science-backed parenting education materials at no cost.
This is why we created Baby Box University and use it to share incredible tools like Vroom, a baby-brain-boosting program from the Bezos Family Foundation, as well as thousands of videos from global healthcare experts on subjects like perinatal mood disorders, postpartum nutrition, screening tests, vaccinations and more.
Q: So how does Baby Box University work?
Healthcare providers use Baby Box University to create and host community-centric content that is specific to the expecting parents in their care. Once parents complete the syllabus developed by their local healthcare provider, they receive a certificate of completion, which they redeem for their free Baby Box.
By utilizing the Baby Box University system as an integral, thoughtful component of Baby Box distribution, healthcare providers ensure that all new parents in their care embark on the most exciting journey of their lives feeling confident and prepared! Furthermore, the platform enables healthcare providers to remain in contact with families beyond birth, engaging with them at developmental milestones and realizing a continuum of care cycle.
From the parent perspective, Baby Box University isn’t just about the education—it’s also about the incentives! Parents who register on Baby Box University receive free product offers and event invitations tied to educational achievements like watching videos about breastfeeding, postpartum healing, early childhood education and more, as well as gaining automatic entry into weekly BBU Bonus giveaways valued at £250+ a pop.
Giveaways like this happen for Baby Box University members every single week.
Q: How do you choose the products included in your Baby Boxes?
A: While Baby Box Co. offers Baby Boxes to parents directly through the e-commerce shop www.babyboxco.com, this actually isn’t our primary focus. The products featured in the Baby Boxes on our website were suggested by our board of medical advisors and personally tested by my partner and best friend, the mum extraordinaire Michelle Vick, before making the cut. Our direct-to-consumer selections are awesome, but we’re not striving to be a baby-shower-in-a-box business.
More than a baby-shower-in-a-box business, Baby Box Co. partners with healthcare trusts to distribute safe sleep spaces at no cost to as many UK families as possible.
The Baby Boxes which are now being delivered en masse to UK parents free of charge through community partnerships account for a much greater percentage of our operations. The products included in these Baby Boxes are unique to each hospital. For example, the contents included in the North Middlesex University Hospital Baby Boxes are slightly different than the items included in the Hillingdon Hospital Baby Boxes or the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Baby Boxes. We believe that enabling hospitals to have input over content selection is significant, as is empowering them to create an exterior design which reflects their special community of patients.
Baby Box contents and exterior designs are reflective of each community’s needs and uniqueness. Check out Hillingdon’s awesome 2016-2017 Baby Box!
Q: How do you use the Baby Box?
A: Some parents keep their Baby Box on the floor as is traditional, others put it in between them in the bed as a safer co-sleeping arrangement, and some place it on a sturdy elevated surface such as a wide coffee table. We are also releasing a stand specifically for our Baby Boxes in a few months as an additional option. It will be released at a very economical price point as an optional accessory for interested parents.
Q: What are the advantages over a Moses Basket?
A: Moses Baskets are generally made of scratchy material, which can be dangerous to an infant’s soft skin or delicate eyes. In order to protect babies from the scratchiness, these baskets are often lined with bumpers, which then pose a suffocation risk.
Moreover, Moses Baskets are typically outgrown between 2-4 months of age whereas most children outgrow Baby Boxes around 6 months of age. Having said all of this, I’m not about to play the shame game. If your child sleeps more soundly in a Moses Basket than a Baby Box and that is what works for your family, then that’s a fine and reasonably safe solution as long as loose blankets and other toys are not in the picture and the baby is laid to sleep on his/her back.
So for all the Moses Basket mums out there: I hope you give our product a try but, regardless, you are welcome to join Baby Box University for free and please do take advantage of everything else our program has to offer!
Q: How can people get a Baby Box in the UK?
A: More and more UK hospitals are launching Baby Box Co. programs every month. By the end of 2016, 80,000+ families in the UK will have the opportunity to receive a free Baby Box by completing their healthcare provider’s syllabus on Baby Box University.
If there is not yet a Baby Box Co. program in your community offering free distribution, you may use code FB15 at www.babyboxco.com to receive 15% off your order.