RCM recommends universal provision of Baby Boxes in UK

By RCM on 02 August 2018 Baby Box Safe Sleep

A new Position Statement from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) supports the universal provision of baby boxes in the UK. Currently baby boxes are given to all new babies in Scotland. In England some NHS Trusts have introduced pilot schemes or full baby box schemes over the last two years. Wales and Northern Ireland do not have any baby box schemes.

The RCM believes that providing baby boxes where the baby has their own sleep space is likely to reduce the risks associated with unsafe co-sleeping.

Research has identified a number of key risk factors for cot death or sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) including:

  • a baby lying prone rather than on his or her back
  • sharing a sleeping surface with a parent who smokes or has been drinking alcohol or taken drugs
  • sleeping on soft or unsafe surfaces such as a sofa
  • being put down to sleep in a situation where they may become entangled in bedding or their heads may become covered by bedding, bumpers or toys

These risk factors tend to be higher in more deprived or isolated communities and there is a high proportion of SUDI in homes with high levels of deprivation. It is in these environments that baby boxes could be especially beneficial in providing safe sleep spaces for the baby. In the statement the RCM  acknowledges that there is limited evidence around baby boxes reducing deaths from SUDI.

The Position Statement does stress that baby boxes must be safe, of high quality and the box and mattress should meet at least the minimum UK safety standards. Decisions about the contents of baby boxes should be made in discussion with suitably qualified health professionals, and experts on SUDI and child safety and parents.

Commenting, Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “A baby box is a positive gift which signals that every baby is important and welcomed. Providing them will help many families whatever their background, and provide a more equal start to life for the baby.

“The Scottish baby box contains a number of very useful baby items that can support the health and wellbeing of new babies including an electronic thermometer, a baby carrying sling, a bath thermometer and a range of clothing.

“Most importantly by enabling parents to give their babies a safe sleeping space, baby boxes may reduce unsafe co-sleeping or babies sleeping in an inappropriate place such as a sofa.”

A copy of the RCM Position Statement on Baby Boxes can be found here.

Note to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.