What is a baby box?
The baby box dates back to 1930’s Finland, which at the time was a relatively poor country with a high infant mortality rate of 65 per 1,000 births. To reduce the mortality rate, the Finnish government began providing new expectant mothers with a starter-kit of baby essentials, designed to give all children, regardless of their situation, an equal start in life. Included in the box were clothes, sheets, toys, and a bed in the form of the box itself. Fast forward ~80 years and Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (2.3 infants per 1,000 births versus 6.5 in the US).
The baby box concept is beginning to expand in the US, particularly as a way to reduce infant mortality and SIDS. In the last few years, Alabama, Ohio and New Jersey have started provided new mothers with a baby box after they watch online videos about safe sleep habits and SIDS, and complete a short quiz. The box itself acts as a place for the baby to sleep as an alternative to bed-sharing, a primary risk factor in SIDS. Additionally, the contents typically provide all the basics you need for a new baby, a huge value particularly for low-income parents.
How can you get one?
For those of us who don’t live in Alabama, Ohio or New Jersey, we must purchase our own baby boxes. There are several companies that provide them, but we used Finnish Baby Box. The company is run by 3 fathers in Finland and the box contains 34 different items that provide a sampling of what the baby will need for the first year. Clothes come in various sizes, and the winter coat is sized based on how old the baby will be in the dead of winter. While I encourage you to shop around at other companies, I can say we were very pleased with the buying process and the contents.
Why we decided to by one
Being a new parent can be a bit overwhelming. There is a flood of information online about the thousands of dollars worth of stuff that you just HAVE to buy, because if you don’t you’ll be a bad parent (note the sarcasm). The baby box reduced the tremendous amount of decision fatigue you can be faced with. With one purchase you have ~40 items that you will absolutely use, and will go a long way in helping you not feel like you’re behind (because, let’s face it, all expectant parents feel that way nearly all the time).
Does it make financial sense?
When we were deciding whether or not to buy a baby box, my wife did some price comparisons to see if the baby box was “worth it” from a price perspective. While I don’t have exact numbers, we did find that it was probably cheaper to buy each of the items individually than in the form of a baby box, though not by much (the box came out to ~$500 after shipping). However, if you use the baby box to replace a full-on bassinet, you can come out ahead with the baby box. Bassinets can run from $150-$400, quickly outpacing the cost of the baby box.
Given we are still a few weeks away from our baby actually arriving, we haven’t had a chance to actually test the products within the box. So stay tuned for an update on using the items. If you’ve used a baby box for your child(ren), please leave a comment on your experiences and things that new parents should look out for when buying a baby box.