Mothers reassured after cot death charity refuses to endorse new giveaway
THE NHS is to continue offering so called ‘Baby Boxes’ to mothers attending Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough maternity units. The confirmation comes after questions
over safety were raised by The Lullaby Trust, the country’s leading cot death charity.
The NHS told the Times that the boxes ‘meet all statutory safety standards’. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells [MTW] NHS Trust launched the programme last week [August 1] to encourage early engagement with maternity services and access to care for all pregnant women. The boxes come with a firm foam mattress, waterproof mattress cover and a fitted cotton sheet.
They will be supplied, as part of a new initiative, free of charge to patients of Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone maternity units and the Crowborough Birthing Centre. The scheme has been used in Finland for 75 years and is credited with drastically reducing the infant mortality rate from 65 per 1,000 births in 1938 to just 2.26 in 2015.
Lullaby refuted this link and said there was no evidence that baby boxes reduced the rate of sudden infant death syndrome [SIDS].
The charity has refused to allow its leaflets to be placed in the boxes ‘as this suggests we endorse the product’. Crucially, they argued that ‘it is not possible for baby boxes to fully comply with safety standards’, as current British and EU regulation only exist for traditional cot cribs and bassinets.
Their report concluded that ‘we still recommend that a cot or Moses basket is the safest place to sleep a baby’. The warning from the charity last Thursday [August 3] came just two days after the MTW NHS Trust launched the giveaway.
In an accompanying press release they quoted the Finish infant mortality statistics and added that the boxes ‘are traditionally used in Finland as a baby’s bed for the first months of their life, replacing the need for a traditional Moses basket or cot’.
When the Times put Lullaby’s concerns to the MTW Trust and the Commissioning Group, they responded on Monday with a joint statement.
“Although the Baby Boxes we distribute meet all statutory safety standards, and are built to provide a safe space for a new born baby to rest should they need one, it is the educational benefits of the full package – and the significant evidence base supporting this – that provides the profoundly positive impact of the Baby Box programme.
“Families receiving a Baby Box become members of the Baby Box University – an online platform providing health advice from a range of local health professionals, on a wide range of topics, including breastfeeding, smoking cessation, perinatal mental health and nutrition in pregnancy.
“The ‘Dos and Don’ts of Baby Boxes’ published by the Lullaby Trust entirely reflect the guidance we have issued alongside all Baby Boxes we have distributed.
“We have worked closely with the Baby Box Company and local maternity experts to ensure we are providing an offer that supports improved maternity experiences for everyone, while also offering all families a parenting starter kit.”
Jenny Cleary, Head of Midwifery and Women’s Health, said, “We welcome any initiative which promotes a safer environment for babies as well as knowledge and reassurance for new parents. “Baby Box is an established and successful programme which I am sure many of our local parents will be delighted to benefit from.”
The Chief Executive of The Baby Box Company, who manufacture the product, Jennifer Clary said: “What the success of Finland’s positive results actually demonstrates is the significance of parenting education, engaging prenatal intervention and accessible community supports.”
Senior policy adviser for the National Childbirth Trust, Elizabeth Duff directed parents to the ‘comprehensive’ information available on www.lullabytrust.org.uk
- In order to receive a free box, expecting parents need to complete the West Kent syllabus on www.babyboxuniversity.com, a maternal and childcare education platform. Upon completion, they will receive a certificate that can be redeemed for their free Baby Box.