Parents to benefit from Baby Box Programme at SWBH NHS Trust

21st Oct 2016

Families who have their baby at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust will be the first in the region to receive a Finnish-style Baby Box for their newborn to sleep in.

The Baby Box tradition, which originates from Finland, has been credited with reducing the infant mortality rate in the country from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015. The UK has some of highest rates of infant mortality in Europe, ranking 22nd out of the 50 European countries with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births*.

The Baby Boxes, which are made from a special, durable cardboard and come with a firm mattress, waterproof mattress cover and 100% cotton sheet, are traditionally used in Finland as an infant’s bed for up to the first six months of their life.
Since the beginning of the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign in 1991 the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) in the UK has dropped by 75% and more than 10,000 babies who would have died have survived. We now know that all babies must be put to sleep on their back, with feet to the end of their sleep space, whether it be an EN Standard compliant Baby Box, bassinet, or crib. We also know that bed sharing with a parent is dangerous, particularly if either parent smokes, consumes alcohol or uses drugs. Babies should also not co-sleep if they are born early or are smaller than expected.

Unfortunately, a small number of babies born at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust die of SIDs each year, a tragedy for the families and the local community. There is strong evidence from Finland that the Baby Box may prevent some of these deaths when tied to an education program such as Baby Box University and we hope to see the infant mortality rate decrease here with the introduction of this initiative.
Families receiving a Baby Box will have access to the Baby Box University, a comprehensive maternal and childcare education platform, during their pregnancy. Developed with leading medical experts around the world, Baby Box University enables each of its healthcare partners to customise the educational content to suit local need. The Trust’s Baby Box University provides women and their partners with videos, made by its team of midwives, health visitors and doctors, to help reduce the risk of infant mortality during pregnancy and the first year of life.

Elaine Newell, Director of Midwifery at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Campaigns in the past to advise parents on the best way to put baby down to sleep, such as ‘Back to Sleep’ and ‘Foot to Foot’ where babies feet should touch the end of their crib have been successful, but we are still losing babies to cot death. We know that in some of these cases baby has been sleeping with siblings or in bed with parents, so in this instance we anticipate the Baby Box will make an enormous difference.

“But this programme offers so much more than a free bed to baby. It is the Baby Box University which offers such an exciting resource, as we can target our educational short films directly to the population we serve, and the films are all of our own staff, so we can talk directly to our families.”

Kerris Percival Family Nurse Supervisor at the Trust, added: “We are excited to be the first hospital Trust in the West Midlands to be working with The Baby Box Co. Women in Sandwell and West Birmingham will have the opportunity to receive a baby box along with access to educational materials from The Baby Box Co.

“Whilst it isn’t possible to say one product would prevent Sudden Infant Death it is possible to reduce the risk by following the current safer sleep guidance.”

Young mum-to-be Katie Webb lost her baby daughter in March this year aged only 17 days. She recalled: “I’ve gone back over the day before and absolutely nothing stood out. She watched me tidying the room, and had a good feed before I changed her nappy and we had a cuddle. I put her down to sleep and sang her a nursery rhyme. I had looked for nursery rhymes online so I could sing to her. She snuggled down and went to sleep. I remember waking up and thinking it was unusual she hadn’t woken me, then when I looked at her and touched her I knew something was badly wrong. The rest of it is very hazy. I can’t describe what happened then. All I know is I lost my baby girl, and I want her back. My birthday was in August, and I remember thinking, there is nothing in the world I want for my birthday, all I want is to have her warm in my arms.

“The Baby Box is very, very close to my heart. I am expecting my baby son in March next year, so anything that will help me keep him safe is good.”

Debbie Brown, Child Death Lead Nurse for Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and Chair of Sandwell CDOP (Child Death Overview Panel) commented: “Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and Sandwell CDOP are delighted to have been involved in the plans to bring Baby Boxes to Sandwell and West Birmingham.  We welcome this initiative, which alongside our Safer Sleep campaigns will help to reduce the number of sudden infant deaths.”

Jennifer Clary, the CEO from The Baby Box Co., which is supplying the Baby Boxes and Baby Box University memberships for participating parents said, “We are delighted to continue the expansion of the Baby Box and Baby Box University programme within the NHS.”


Issued by: Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. Tel: 0121 507 5303.

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