Cardboard cribs to prevent sudden deaths?

The Nordic countries are famous for taking care of their citizens and promoting policies to protect families and children. 80 years ago, Finland took an emergency measure to reduce the number of sudden infant deaths.

They had very high figures: 65 deaths per 1,000 births. For this, a cardboard box began to be distributed to all newborns , changing the traditional cribs for the padded boxes that the state gave away, during the first eight months of life. The impact was extraordinary, since the rate of sudden death fell to one of the lowest in the world: 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births. Countries like the United States or the United Kingdom are copying the measure.

  • With the use of cardboard boxes converted into cribs, the rate of sudden infant deaths dropped dramatically.
  • Sleeping in a confined space would make it difficult for the baby to roll over onto their stomach.
  • Sleeping on your back is the main recommendation to avoid sudden infant death.

A Finnish tradition to sleep in cardboard cots

In the 1930s, the Finnish government initiated a measure so that all newborns, regardless of their social status, would enjoy help to cover their first needs. At that time, the country was very poor and infant mortality very high.
All pregnant women were given a box with hygiene products, diapers, sleeping bags and clothes. No bottles or pacifiers were given away, to promote breastfeeding. At the bottom of the box was a mattress, so the box became the baby’s first bed.

In its beginnings, one of the conditions to obtain the box was to visit a doctor and a public antenatal clinic before four months of pregnancy. The box gave mothers what they needed to care for their babies, but also helped guide women to health professionals to properly monitor their pregnancy.
Currently, mothers can choose between the box or receive the money in cash, about US$214, but 95% opt for the box, since its value is much higher.

Why does sleeping in a cardboard box protect against sudden infant death?

It seems that sleeping in a small space makes it difficult for the baby to turn over and lie on his stomach. As has been known for years, sleeping on your back is the main recommendation to avoid sudden infant death, which is defined as the unexpected death of an apparently healthy baby under one year of age. The autopsy does not reveal an explainable cause of death. It usually occurs during sleep and those who were premature, those who were born with a very low weight, those who sleep on their stomachs or live exposed to tobacco smoke are at greater risk.

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