“Baby boxes” could be coming to the Big Apple.
A new bill being introduced in the City Council would require the city to hand out boxes — which double as places for infants to sleep — in neighborhoods with high infant mortality rates.
The boxes, like ones that have long been given out to every new mother in Finland, would come with a firm mattress and fitted sheet — making them a safe place for babies to sleep.
“New York City has continued to make strides in decreasing infant mortality, but there’s still huge disparities in communities of color,” said Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens), who is sponsoring the legislation.
Many infant deaths have been caused by sleeping in a bed with parents or with blankets or pillows they can suffocate on.
“There’s no one when you go home with the baby to teach you this stuff,” said Richards, who has a two year old son. “It’s one less thing when parents come home from the hospital that they have to think about.”
The legislation would require a year-long pilot program to distribute boxes to expectant parents in the five city neighborhoods with the highest rates of infant mortality.
The box would come filled with other baby goods. The exact contents for the New York program haven’t been specified, but in Finland, the boxes come loaded with baby clothes, diapers, and baby bath products.
Finland has been giving the boxes out to new mothers for over 75 years, and has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
In 2015, New York’s mortality rate was three times higher for black infants than white ones.
“That’s just unacceptable and we need to take action,” said Councilman Mark Levine, the Health Committee chair and a co-sponsor of the bill. “Across the world baby boxes have been shown to reduce infant deaths by providing parents with a safe space for the baby to sleep and valuable information on caring for a newborn child.”