According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, there are more than 11 million infants and toddlers under the age of 3 in the U.S. Forty-seven percent of them live in low-income families and 24% of them live in poor families.
Danielle Selassie founded the non-profit organization, Babies Need Boxes, as a way to help those families. The organization provides Finnish baby boxes to mothers in Minnesota.
“A Finnish baby box is a box that comes equipped with newborn essentials and is lined with a mattress so it becomes a baby’s first safe sleep space,” Selassie explained. “It’s a simple cardboard box. Inside we put newborn diapers, wipes, breastfeeding supplies, soap, diaper rash ointment, books and toys, everything you’d need for the first couple of months of life.”
“Everyone things you need the most fancy things to help a baby, really all a baby needs is your two arms and a few supplies to help get you through tings,” Selassie said. “Sometimes less is better!”
The boxes helped the government of Finland achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. “I”m hoping to bring this tradition here to Minnesota, to help our infant mortality rates decline as well,” Selassie said. “It’s a way to show that the community cares about moms who may not have the same opportunities that you or I have when we are welcoming a baby into the world. When I started getting into this is was really shocking to me I found out there are women out there who did not have a safe place for the baby to sleep, they didn’t have newborn care supplies so it became more of a mission to get safe sleep resources out to moms and make sure we’re hitting these vulnerable pockets of women who may not have the resources they need to take care of their babies.”
“When you give a person the resources they need to be successful they shine so i feel like these boxes really enable moms to be self confident really comfortable with their abilities as a mom. All of us know as moms having a baby especially as first time mom can be pretty overwhelming and when you give people these resources it’s really cool to see their face light up and they shine and they really see the possibility that they have with their family.”
“When I first started this I read a BBC article about the Finnish baby box tradition and the last line said that these boxes are a symbol of equality and the importance of children,” Selassie said. “That’s such a powerful message, so every time I give a box to a mom I talk about 'you are important we are raising the next generation of doctors, lawyers caregivers' and it is so important to start parents out in the right way and give them the tools and supplies they need. We want pregnant women to feel comfortable and confident before they give birth and now make them more confident moms which helps out everybody!”