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Midwives call for all new parents in UK to get baby boxes

A baby box.
A baby box.

Baby boxes should be given to all new parents across the UK, midwives have said.

Baby boxes are currently available to all expectant mothers in Scotland. Some NHS trusts in England have also launched schemes to hand them out. Containing essential items for newborns and promoted as a safe place for babies to sleep, the boxes should be universally rolled-out to all new parents, according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). Vote in our poll and tell us what you think about this issue.

The RCM has said that giving out the boxes will likely reduce the risks associated with unsafe co-sleeping, which is a key risk factor for cot death or sudden death in infancy. They stressed that boxes must be safe, of high quality and the box and mattress should meet at least the minimum UK safety standards.

The organisation also acknowledged there is "limited evidence" around baby boxes reducing deaths from SUDI.

Earlier this year cot death expert Dr Peter Blair raised concerns about the promotion of the boxes for sleeping.

Dr Blair, chairman of the International Society for the Study and Prevention of Perinatal and Infant Death, told The Guardian newspaper: "They shouldn't be advocating infants sleep in these boxes unless there isn't anything else available."

The Scottish Government said its baby box conforms to all relevant safety standards currently in place for a crib or cradle.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is considering developing a standard specifically for baby boxes.

Gill Walton, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "A baby box is a positive gift which signals that every baby is important and welcomed.

"Providing them will help many families whatever their background, and provide a more equal start to life for the baby.

"The Scottish baby box contains a number of very useful baby items that can support the health and wellbeing of new babies, including an electronic thermometer, a baby carrying sling, a bath thermometer and a range of clothing.

"Most importantly by enabling parents to give their babies a safe sleeping space, baby boxes may reduce unsafe co-sleeping or babies sleeping in an inappropriate place such as a sofa."