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Here's why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes
With U.S. infant mortality rates high compared to the world's other high-income countries, experts propose American parents take a tip from those living in Finland. There, they have their babies sleep in cardboard boxes, and here's why. - photo by Payton Davis
People receive praise when thinking outside the box, but according to Finnish parents, a strategy to keeping babies safe might be in it.

That's because infants sleep in cardboard boxes in Finland, Rick Noack wrote for The Washington Post. And even if the tradition seems strange, experts say it could save lives here in the U.S. lowering the infant mortality rate.

Jessica Roy wrote for New York magazine the northern European nation started to "stow" babies in cardboard boxes for slumber in 1938.

Since then, the state has issued new mothers a box that also includes clothes, sheets and toys. The practice proves cheap and efficient for families, but Helena Lee noted for BBC News that Finland's high infant mortality rates in the 1930s spurred the initiative.

According to BBC News, before the box breakthrough, 65 out of 1,000 Finnish babies died.

The rate has fallen to 0.3 percent now, the Post reported.

Karima Ladhani founded Barakat Bundle, a nongovernmental organization that creates the boxes for South Asian mothers. She told the Post the practice's effectiveness isn't restricted and parents in countries as different as Zambia and the U.S. should consider it.

"I don't think there are geographic boundaries to the impact," Ladhani told the Post. "But design is incredibly crucial to ensure that it addresses the needs and wants of different populations."

Although not comparable to Finland's 30s infant mortality rates, Washington, D.C.'s rate is 7.9 percent the highest of the world's high-income capitals, the Post indicated.

Shane Ferro wrote for Business Insider on contrasts in infant death between the U.S. and Europe. A National Bureau for Economic Research study found the difference in rates has "less to do with acute health problems just after birth and more to do with SIDS, sudden death and accidents."

The Center for Disease Control listed the top five things American babies die from as birth defects, preterm birth, SIDS, maternal complications of pregnancy and injuries.

So should U.S. parents consider putting babies in boxes?

They should for a few reasons, pediatrician Corinn Cross told CBS Los Angeles.

Baby in a box accomplishes a lot of things that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, CBS Los Angeles quoted Cross, also an AAP spokesman, as saying. You want to have your baby without any other loose bedding. So a baby in a box, if it has a nice tight-fitting mattress and just a little sheet on top of it, theres no bumpers; theres no pillows; theres no stuffed animals. So theres not a lot less things for the baby to suffocate on.

BBC News noted another benefit: Finnish moms are happy, and they bring up the box and items included with it as a reason why.

"We are very well taken care of, even now when some public services have been cut down a little," Finnish mom Titta Vayrynen told BBC News.

According to New York magazine, the boxes prove optimal for three to four months, after which parents would purchase an actual crib.

Finnish father Heikki Tiittanen told the Post of another sign to tell babies have outgrown the box.

"Our rule of thumb would be that it's time to move on from the box when the baby drums to the walls of the box so that parents are not able to sleep anymore," the Post quoted Tiittanen as saying.

The Post said the box was an advantage even after Tiittanen's child outgrew it because he turned it into a toy car.

A standard box by the Baby Box Co. sells for $69.99, according to CBS Los Angeles. A deluxe box with newborn essentials like issued in Finland costs $225.

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