New Jersey has become the first state in the nation where all expecting and new parents can get a free Baby Box.

The boxes, produced by the Baby Box Company, are made from durable cardboard and can be used like a crib or bassinet for the first few months of an infant’s life.

According to Cooper University Hospital pediatric physician Kathryn McCans, who is also the chairwoman of the New Jersey Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board, which is overseen by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the Baby Box program is really about reminding everyone of the importance of a safe sleeping environment for babies in order to lower the number of sudden infant death cases.

“All babies need a safe sleep environment, which includes a firm mattress with a well fitted crib sheet, and nothing else,” she said

In other words, a simple enclosure with nothing put inside it.

“A crib, a bassinet or a box are all safe environments if you keep it bare — no pillows no blankets, no stuffed animals, no bumpers.”

“The Baby Box gives one option for parents," she said. "I think it’s great that it’s portable. A parent can choose what’s best for them.”

She said Baby Boxes are available by logging on to Parents can watch safety videos on the site, then receive a certificate for a free Baby Box.

“I think it’s great if we can prevent infants from dying,” said McCans.

Jernica Quinones, of Camden, mother of Bless’n Belarge, was the first New Jersey parent to receive a Baby Box.

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ
David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

“My doctor told me the program was coming to New Jersey and I said — hey, you know, we have the baby; let’s put him in a box!” she said.

When Quinones put Bless’n in the box, the 2 ½ month old baby smiled and made a gurgling happy noise.

“This is the first time that like, out of all of the things they have for babies that I have at home, that he was actually to be in, it looks comfortable. I wish I could fit in there with him,” she said.

“The Baby Box will be very convenient down in the living room, so I can cook and do my family stuff while he’s sleeping.”

Dolores Peterson, of Camden, also got a Baby Box for her now- 5 ½-week-old Ariabella.

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ
David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

“She’s liking it, she’s enjoying it, she’s being really calm,” she said.

An estimated 93 percent of infant fatalities associated with SUIDS last year were directly related to sleep and sleep environments, according to a report by the Child Fatality & Near Fatality Review Board.

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