New mums at a hospital in London will be the first in the country to receive Finnish-style “baby boxes” for their newborn to sleep in.
Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, will be carrying out the first UK trial of the tradition, which it hopes will reduce the infant mortality rate.
The boxes have been credited with reducing infant mortality in Finland from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015, according to data from The World Bank.
The UK ranks 22nd out of 50 European countries in terms of infant mortality, with 4.19 deaths per 1,000 births.
“For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality,” said Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at the Trust leading the baby box trial.
“These boxes have been proven to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland and we hope that these results could be replicated in the UK.”
The boxes, made from thick cardboard, are used in Finland as a baby’s bed for up to the first eight months of their life.
Replacing the need for the traditional Moses basket, it is thought the small size of the baby box prevents babies from rolling onto their tummies, which experts think can contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will distribute 800 baby boxes to new mums who have their baby at Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, on a first come first serve basis.
Each box contains a firm foam mattress, waterproof mattress cover and a cotton sheet.
In addition to receiving the box, new mums will also be given specialist education materials, with advice on how to further reduce the risk of infant mortality, improve parental bonding and support the transition to parenthood.
The trial started on Monday 27 June and as part of this, babies who received the boxes will be monitored by the Trust until they are eight months old.
Their parents will then be asked to fill out a questionnaire about their use of the box.
Jennifer Clary, the CEO of The Baby Box Co., the company supplying the Trust with the baby boxes said: “We are delighted to provide the baby boxes to the Trust for UK parents and look forward to the results of the trial.”