I always thought the gift of a layette was a thing only my Jewish mother did, because she did it with such an abundance of need-to-knows and must-haves, but now I understand there was a deeper purpose with an accent on the must-haves. Meet the baby box. (Really? Sort of an odd name, unless you believe in the stork.) A baby box offers a safe, comfortable place for your baby to sleep in the first few months. A baby box can be personalized, or if you can’t afford one, you can apply for a state grant. What??? Yes! So in lies the purpose behind the baby box.
Baby boxes first emerged in Finland in the 1930s as part of the Maternity Grants Act of 1937. According to Healthline, the act came in response to an alarming infant mortality rate—at its highest, nearly 1 in 10 infants died under the age of 1. The boxes were originally intended only for low-income mothers. By 1949, the program had such recognized success that the grant was made available to all moms in Finland, regardless of income.
After decades of success in Finland, infant mortality dropped from 21.9 per 1,000 births in 1960 to 1.9 per 1,000 births in 2015. In the United States, infant mortality is 5.82 per 1,000 births. According to the New York Times, the baby box program began popping up around the world, and in 2017 hit the U.S. with New Jersey being the first state offering 105,000 baby boxes to all new parents, highlighting the need to help mothers and fathers keep their babies safe. Ohio will give away up to 140,000 boxes this year, and Alabama is set to give away another 60,000. And this month, it was announced that hospitals and organizations in Texas would give away as many as 400,000 of the boxes. Unfortunately with the fragmented nature of health care in the United States, it also means we cannot yet integrate the program as closely as Finland does, but it’s a start.
Great News, Expecting Parents! At the Baby Box Company, you can join Baby Box University (BBU). I wish I had gone to BBU for my masters. It offers a lot more information than we got from the book on “Gay Parenting” or “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” The Baby Box Co. comes with the ease of internet support, and is widely community-based, so you never “feel you’re in this alone.” So, when you’re listening to your mother say things like, “It happens so fast, relish every moment,” as your baby chomps away at your sore nipples, just know your community is here to listen and help every step of the way.
And you can’t ignore the tag line…“It’s not just a box, it’s a movement”…well, if that isn’t a double entendre. This is a really fun and super-smart use of your resources when you’re trying to figure out what gifts to buy an expecting family. Get them a gift the way the Finnish have done it since the 1930s. Let the baby box inspire you to personalize your own, or get one delivered directly from The Baby Box Company.
If you decide to personalize one, here is a list of suggested must-haves: (Unisex, unless otherwise stated)
Brook Altman is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Prowdr.com. To learn more about how this extraordinary LGBTQ lifestyle website came into being, check out Welcome to Prowdr.
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