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St. Thomas Aquinas Brings Finnish "Baby Box" Tradition to Madison

Mar 26, 2017 07:46PM ● By Digital Media Director
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison, South Dakota is on a mission to ensure that every newborn who goes home from Madison Regional Health System is equipped with all of the newborn necessities along with a safe place to sleep.

The “boxes for babies”, as they are called, are filled with all kinds of items new parents might need including a handmade diaper bag, onesies, blankets, diaper rash ointment and more.
The box itself, which is made of sturdy cardboard, can even be used for the newborn to sleep in as it comes with a firm mattress and fitted sheet. The box provides a guaranteed safe sleep environment for the baby for the first few months of life, and one that can easily be moved from room to room.

While this may not be a familiar tradition for US health systems or new parent, the country of Finland has been handing out baby boxes for more than 80 years. Interestingly, Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world at just 1.9 deaths per 1000 births in 2015. In contrast, the US had an infant mortality rate of 5.6 per 1000 births in 2015.

The first statewide program in the US to provide baby boxes for new parents launched in New Jersey at the beginning of 2017. St. Thomas has already provided 11 boxes for babies to MRHS mothers and newborns since October.