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RCM releases position statement on baby boxes

2 August, 2018

RCM releases position statement on baby boxes

The new statement supports the universal provision of baby boxes in the UK.

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.

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, while Wales and Northern Ireland do not have any baby box schemes.
 

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 their back, sharing a sleeping surface with a parent who smokes or has been drinking alcohol or taken drugs, and sleeping on soft or unsafe surfaces such as a sofa. 

Another risk is 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 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 (read more here). 

It is in these environments that baby boxes could be especially beneficial in providing safe sleep spaces for the baby, however 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.

RCM chief executive Gill Walton 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.’

Gill said that 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.

Read the RCM’s position statement on baby boxes here. 

Read a mother’s view on the baby box here.

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