They include clothing, toys, books, swaddles, thermometers, a mattress, sheets and much more. The box itself can even be used as a bed for the baby if needed.
The baby box idea first started in Finland. It’s shocking that governments in so many other countries support new parents in ways that don’t happen here. Much of it is because we don’t have guaranteed health care in the United States, but that’s another post. More support needs to be given to parents, especially with the increasing assault on reproductive rights in this country. Again, another post.
I was so intrigued by this idea of baby boxes, that I was curious if there might be something like that here. Surprisingly, the answer is yes. The Biden-Harris Administration realizes that families need more support and recognized that other countries have some good ideas on how to do that.
“Today, basic newborn supplies like diapers can cost an average of $1,000 a year for each diapered child in a home In addition, nearly 1 in 8 women – regardless of age, income, or race – will suffer from some form of postpartum anxiety or depression, a number that is on the rise for women in America. Further, mental health conditions now comprise 23% of pregnancy-related deaths – more than any other single category.
In an effort to alleviate some of these stressors on new families, governments in at least 91 other countries and municipalities offer new families a “Baby Box” upon the birth of a child. In addition to offering much-needed physical goods, these baby boxes are designed to offer critical postpartum care information and to promote increased interactions between parents and their healthcare providers.”
In May 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a pilot program in collaboration with Baby2Baby, a nonprofit organization. The program provides Newborn Supply Kits to new mothers.
“The Newborn Supply Kits consist of more than 20 items including diapers and wipes, clothing, hygiene items, blankets and thermometers for newborns, and postpartum pads, lotion, cold packs, breastfeeding supplies, and carriers for new moms. HHS and Baby2Baby will first distribute 3,000 of the Newborn Supply Kits across Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico – three states experiencing deep levels of family poverty – via hospitals and community-based partner organizations. Any mother giving birth during pilot implementation at one of the partner sites will be eligible to receive a kit.”
The intent is for the program to expand with a focus on addressing the maternal health crisis. “We need bold solutions that recognize and respond to the unacceptable disparities in maternal health outcomes in this country,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Through this new funding, health centers will be able to tailor their response to the needs of their patients and communities and take action to save lives.”
As we move further into 2024, more information will be available about how the program is doing and plans for expansion. This kind of help for new families is long overdue and I’m looking forward to learning more about it!