Voice of a mother: A safe place to sleep
Hollie Ewers describes her experience using a baby box for her daughter Violet.
Nobody puts baby in a corner... but how about a box? It didn’t seem weird to me, but I understand how it looked a bit strange to visitors when they peered into the empty Moses basket and instead found Violet snuggled up in the big cardboard box next to it.
I was fortunate enough to be pregnant with my first child when the Baby Box Co. were launching a similar programme to the Finnish one in a London trust. I was offered a box to trial and although I knew of the benefits and agreed to give it a go, I honestly didn’t think I’d use it, especially with all the new sleeping devices recommended and gifted to me by family.
When I got the box home, my husband thought it was a joke. I had to explain the history behind the box and the success of the initiative in Finland (which has run for nearly 80 years) and is designed to give all children an equal start in life, no matter what background they’re from. As with the Finnish boxes there were ‘essential’ items included in our box, such as muslins, babygrows, sleeping bags, mitts and socks, bath and hair wash, nappies and wipes and, of course, a simple mattress with a mattress protector and fitted sheet. It was quite exciting going through all the products, especially as I had been quite superstitious during my pregnancy and refused to buy anything until the week before my due date.
Another item that came with the box was an online educational service Baby Box University, which provides new parents with resources and videos to help with everything that comes with being a new parent.
Once Violet was born and we brought her home, we soon realised that she wouldn’t settle to sleep in her Moses basket, no matter how much we persisted. But the one place she would sleep when we tried it was in the box. And so, appreciating just how precious sleep is with a new baby, it was in the box that she slept until she was no longer able to fit in it, which was around five to six months in the end!
I’m still not sure why she preferred sleeping in the box, it might have felt more closed in and cosy, I can only guess. But I know that I felt reassured that she was safe sleeping in there – it was sturdy and unfussy – and every so often I’d hear a comforting tap on the side of the box, when she moved her arms about.
Having experienced the box scheme for myself, I think it’s a great concept, especially when it’s provided to women and families who can’t afford the expense that comes with having a child. I also love the idea that each child is given the same start when they are born, proving that an adequate and safe place for a new baby to sleep doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Hollie Ewers is assistant editor on Midwives. She lives in Essex with her husband and daughter Violet
- The Finnish baby box tradition dates back to 1938, but the boxes have been offered to all pregnant women in Finland since 1949
- Since August 2017, all pregnant women in Scotland have been entitled to a baby box and essential items.