A box for baby

It seems unlikely, but some concerned citizens from sunny South Texas have imported an 80-year-old public health strategy from chilly Finland aimed at making it a little easier — and safer — for new parents to bring their newborn home from the hospital.

University Hospital has launched a pilot program offering to new parents baby boxes filled with infant first aid kits, diapers, wipes, ointment, soft teddy bears, and a mattress with a waterproof cover and cotton sheet. The San Antonio North Central Rotary Club, The Junior League of San Antonio, Inc., the Texas Diaper Bank and the University Health System Foundation partnered to fund 135 baby boxes for the pilot project.

John Chance, who at the time was president of the San Antonio North Central Rotary Club, was online and saw a post about baby boxes that the Finnish government sends home with new moms who have received prenatal counseling. The boxes are a starter kit of newborn essentials, with diapers, clothing, and other supplies – all in a sturdy cardboard box with a fitted mattress at the bottom, providing a safe sleeping option for babies up to about 3 months of age.

“I looked around, and I didn’t see anyone in the U.S. doing anything like this,” Chance said. “The main reason for this is for safe sleep – to keep the baby on their back until they can turn over by themselves.”

Inspired, Chance contacted the University Health System Foundation to see about starting the project for moms in need at University Hospital.

A news conference this week drew coverage across the country, including this take from Slate, the online news magazine.