Is the Baby Box Safe?

Cribs for Kids® Statement on the Baby Box

Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Initiative has dedicated the past 20 years to providing safe sleep environments to infants and safe sleep education to their parents and caregivers. We have poured countless hours and dollars into the research and development of our safe sleep environment, the Cribette. In doing so, our goal to reach the highest safety standards put forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for infant nursery products was paramount.

Cribs for Kids does not condone the use of baby boxes as a safe sleep environment. The popularity of the baby box stems from its Finnish origins. In Finland, new mothers have been supplied with a baby box since the 1930s. These cardboard boxes are presented at the hospital, filled with baby supplies and are intended as an alternative sleep space. Studies have shown that fewer than 37% of mothers in Finland use them as a sleep environment.

The popularity of baby boxes in the United States has been built upon the idea that Finland’s notoriously low infant mortality rates are directly related to the box being given to new parents as a safe sleep environment. In reality, studies have proven that the primary reason infant mortality rates are so low compared to the United States is due to socialized medicine resulting in a smaller number of preterm births.

The introduction of the baby box as a safe sleep space in the U.S. has us deeply concerned. In developing a safe sleep environment for our infants, many factors need to be considered. This is why we rely on the CPSC. It alarms us that the CPSC has not given the green light to this sleep space alternative as of yet because it is still not considered a sleep environment for infants. We look forward to studies by the AAP and CPSC on this product concluding.

CPSC Statement – Cardboard boxes for babies are currently not subject to any mandatory safety standards.  These products do not meet the federal definition of a crib, bassinet, play yard, or handheld carrier.  CPSC staff is participating with a leading standards development organization, baby box manufacturers, child safety experts, and other stakeholders to include requirements for cardboard baby boxes within the bassinet standard.

In addition to the baby box not being adequately regulated, we are concerned about the practicality of this sleeping arrangement for infants. We believe that it is essential to be able to view your baby without obstruction from across the room. The high enclosed side of a box would impede your open view and make it necessary to stand directly above the box to check on your baby.

It is normally suggested that the box is placed on the ground next to your bed while sleeping. Doing this would leave the infant vulnerable to low drafts and pose the risk of an adult stepping in or tripping over the box, particularly at night. Pet experts advise that animals are prone to curl up in cardboard boxes at floor level. Unsupervised contact with pets can pose a significant risk of infant asphyxiation and possible pet attack.

It is suggested that the box is placed on a high surface, such as a table or counter, as a safe space for your baby to nap during the day. The concern that the box would fall from a high area is great, especially if an infant is old enough to roll over. The box is presented as a space that you can keep your infant safe until up to 8 months of age. While we advise against a baby of any age being placed in this environment, the baby will most likely not fit comfortably in the box past 2 or 3 months of age.

Although it is not recommended that you use the box as a transportation device, there is a grave concern of a caregiver tripping while holding the infant in the box. Adults will go to great lengths to not disturb a sleeping baby, and if they need to go to another room, they will inevitably carry the infant in the box. Most safety approved play yards, cribs and bassinets are stationary or on wheels for this purpose.

The durability of the material is also questionable. While you would never submerge the box in standing water, infant care tends to lend itself to messy situations. There is no way to properly clean and sanitize this material after it is subjected to spilled milk, urine, feces, or regurgitation. If the box becomes ruined during the night and there is no other alternative, we fear the baby would be placed in bed with the parents as a last resort.