New Jersey is giving new parents free cardboard "baby boxes" as part of a statewide safe-sleeping campaign that aims to reduce the number of infants dying from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS).
New Jersey is the first state where all expecting and new parents can receive a mattress-lined cardboard box and baby care supplies from the California-based Baby Box Co., after completing an online parenting education program, according to the USA Today Network. An estimated 105,000 free baby boxes — the anticipated number of births in 2017 — will be distributed this year in New Jersey, CNN reports, and will continue beyond 2017 based on its success, which will be measured by parents' use of the boxes and improvements tracked in the state's health outcomes.
The sturdy cardboard boxes can be used as a bed for the baby until 5 or 6 months of age, and are lightweight enough to be moved from room to room.
Baby boxes originated in Finland in the 1930s as a way to decrease the nation's infant mortality rate. The tradition continues in the country today and is spreading around the globe and the U.S., where there are an estimated 3,500 deaths from SUIDS each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.