New parents in Scotland will receive baby boxes from this week, in a scheme designed to promote safe sleeping practices. The Finnish-style packages are similar to those that will also be given to parents in Hackney, east London, later this year, and are already available in some parts of England.
The boxes, which will be available across the country from Tuesday, will include items such as clothes, books, blankets and a leaflet outlining how to ensure babies sleep safely, STV News reported.
They can also be used for babies to sleep in, which the Scottish government assured is entirely safe as the boxes meet British safety standards. The national roll-out of the scheme follows a trial in Orkney and Clackmannanshire which began in January, reported The Independent.
Chief medical officer for Scotland, Dr. Catherine Calderwood, said parents should be thinking about how they will safely put their baby to sleep even before he or she is born. "It is important parents make the safe sleeping choice that is right for them, and anyone needing more information should speak to their health visitor or midwife,” she said.
It’s thought that placing babies in a box can help keep them on their backs as they sleep, which can prevent cot death. However, a cot death charity raised concerns over baby boxes earlier this month, saying there was no evidence the Finnish-style boxes reduce instances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Lullaby Trust, which provides baby safe sleeping advice for the NHS, said it would no longer allow its branded leaflets to be enclosed in the baby boxes already being handed out by some NHS trusts in England, "as this suggests we endorse the product," the BBC reported.
“We support all efforts to promote safer sleep for babies, however we do have concerns about the baby boxes being marketed as products which will reduce infant mortality and SIDS," said the charity's chief executive Francine Bates.
“It is also not possible for baby boxes to meet all current safety standards, as nursery furniture regulations only apply to traditional cots, cribs and bassinets, not boxes made from cardboard," she added, urging parents to follow guidance from scientific sources and paediatric advisers if they choose to put their baby to sleep in the box.