Baby box roll-out begins after debate on safety

Baby boxes new crop

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon helps launch the baby box scheme

Distribution of the packs comes after the safety of babies sleeping in the boxes was questioned

15th August 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Distribution of baby boxes to all Scottish newborns is underway.

The Scottish Government has said that distribution of the packs – which are filled with health items and advice for families – ensure that every child will get the best start in life, regardless of their circumstances.

The roll-out comes after a row earlier this month over the safety of babies being able to use the boxes as a sleep space.

The Lullaby Trust said that there is no evidence either way that newborns are safer in the boxes than in a cot or crib.

Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said that the items in the box would help to ensure that babies can live a healthy life.

She said: “All the evidence shows that the early years are crucial for children’s development. What happens then can be linked to outcomes much later in life. So we know that measures undertaken in the 0-3 years age range have the opportunity to make the biggest impact.

“That is why we have been working hard to enhance the existing infrastructure available to support families in these crucial early years from before birth all the way up to school age and beyond.”

Mark McDonald, minister for childcare and early years, said: “We will continue to listen to feedback as the baby box reaches more families and work with parents and healthcare professionals to keep the contents under review.”

Lynsay Allan, executive director of the Scottish Cot Death Trust, said: "While the proven safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot, crib or Moses basket, I also recognise that the box can be used as a safe sleep space for newborn babies, particularly where families may have no alternative and where they might otherwise unsafely share their bed or sleep on a sofa or chair with their baby."

Earlier this month, The Lullaby Trust chief executive Francine Bates said: “We support all efforts to promote safer sleep for babies. However, we do have concerns about the baby boxes being marketed as products which will reduce infant mortality and sudden infant death syndrome.

“We are not aware of any evidence, including in Finland, to support this claim. It is also not possible for baby boxes to meet all current safety standards, as nursery furniture regulations only apply to traditional cots, cribs and bassinets, not boxes made from cardboard.”