Cot death charity questions credentials of baby box to reduce rates
Finnish baby box, by Visa Kopu
A leading cot death charity has withdrawn its literature from Scotland's baby boxes service after raising concerns they were being marketed as products to reduce sudden infant death syndrome.
The scheme, which will see every expectant mother in Scotland given a box containing support materials like nappies and baby books, has been credited with contributing to Finland's very low infant mortality rates.
The box also contains bedding and a mattress and can act as a bed for the child.
The Lullaby Trust has said it will no longer put its leaflets in the package as it was not "factually correct" to link the box itself with infant mortality.
In a statement of advice to parents, the charity said: "We are concerned about claims that the cardboard boxes, inspired by those distributed by the Government in Finland, are being promoted as a product parents can use to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
"We acknowledge that for some parents, who do not have an enclosed space for their baby to sleep such as a cot or Moses basket, a box may be a better alternative than co-sleeping with a baby in hazardous circumstances, such as on a sofa. However, based on the evidence currently available, we do not not believe it is factually correct to directly link the use of a baby box with a reduction in infant mortality or SIDS."
The charity also urged parents to check the mattress and box met with British Safety Standards.
"We still recommend that a cot or Moses basket is the safest place to sleep a baby," it said.
The Scottish Government said it was "proud" of the scheme. A spokesperson told the BBC: "It was awarded British Safety Standard accreditation as a crib for domestic use - the first non-commercial baby box in the world to do so."
It is based on a Scandinavian idea that has also been credited with encouraging better and earlier engagement among women with maternal health services.
However research for the government by Kantar TNS revealed ‘strong resistance’ from parents in Scotland to using the baby box as a sleeping space.
Only 14 per cent said they would use it at night, with one Glasgow mother saying she would be “mortified” if visitors saw her baby in a box.
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