Baby box programs spread to US, encourage safe sleeping

Baby box programs spread to US, encourage safe sleeping

May 6th, 2016 by Associated Press in National Health

Keyshla Rivera smiles at her newborn son Jesus as registered nurse Christine Weick demonstrates a baby box before her discharge from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia on Friday, May 6, 2016. In an effort to reduce infant mortality the boxes which are functioning bassinets complete with a sheet and mattress as well as essential baby supplies will be given free-of-charge to all mothers who deliver at the hospital. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Doctors in Philadelphia hope to lower the city's high infant mortality rate by distributing baby boxes that encourage safe sleeping.

The cardboard boxes are lined with a mattress and function like a bassinet. They're meant to discourage parents from sleeping with their babies, which could cause accidental suffocation.

Temple University Hospital plans to give out 3,000 boxes over the next year to every woman who delivers there. The program started this week.

The hospital serves a low-income neighborhood where families don't always have adequate resources to care for newborns. The boxes also include clothing, diapers and educational materials.

Temple officials say this is the largest such effort by any academic health system in the U.S., though that could not immediately be confirmed. It's based on a successful initiative in Finland.