Baby boxes could help to save lives

From left, mum-to-be Rebecca Butler and husband Ian with a baby box, pictured with health visitor Katy Warriner at the launch of the Baby Box initiative

From left, mum-to-be Rebecca Butler and husband Ian with a baby box, pictured with health visitor Katy Warriner at the launch of the Baby Box initiative

New parents in the borough are being given a helping hand to care for their babies.

The first baby boxes were given to families yesterday to help their new arrivals sleep safely.

The cardboard boxes include a fitted mattress to allow them to be used as a cot, along with clothes, blankets and other necessities.

They are designed to reduce infant mortality and are being introduced in the UK after proving successful in Finland for the past 75 years.

The boxes mean babies can sleep near their parents without the dangers of sharing a bed, as well as stopping them rolling onto their stomachs.

Five babies died of sudden unexpected death in infancy in the borough last year and there has already been one this year.

The North West has had one of the highest rates of infant mortality and it is hoped this initiative will tackle that.

Louise Huxley, community midwife team leader for Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The box was originally founded in Finland and their death rates are really low. What we wanted was to have all parents getting consistent messages and having a safe space for their baby to sleep.”

Jay Hemingway, UK manager for The Baby Box Co, said: “Every baby in Finland has one of these - every baby has the same start in life. I know it will make a difference here as well.”

The box is available to pregnant women who have completed “baby box university”, an online course with video tutorials which teaches them about breastfeeding, maternal mental health, paediatric first aid and other topics.

Once they have completed it, they are given a certificate and can collect their box.

Pregnant Jessica Belshaw and Michael Newbury, from Swinley, attended the launch at Wigan Sports Club yesterday to pick up a box ready for the birth of their baby.

Miss Belshaw said: “It’s a good idea. I have heard about it and thought I would get one. You know your child is safe then. It’s peace of mind for us.

“We will have him downstairs and have something other than the moses basket and cot. It’s something that’s comfy for him that’s tried and tested.”

Fiona Robinson, from Beech Hill, got a box for her seven-month-old son Beck.

She said: “I saw the box advertised on the Breastfeeding Together Facebook page and read up on the initiative. It was an open invitation and I thought it would be good to come down and find out what it’s about.

“Obviously safe sleep is something that’s very, very important.”