Baby boxes are a range of products, usually made from cardboard with a mattress inside, intended for use as a baby’s sleeping place.
It is not possible for baby boxes to fully comply with safety standards, as current British and EU safety standards for nursery furniture only exist for traditional cots cribs and bassinets and there is currently no specific standard for the use of a cardboard box as a sleeping place for an infant.
We are concerned about claims that the cardboard boxes, inspired by those distributed by the Government in Finland, are being promoted as a product parents can use to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
We acknowledge that for some parents, who do not have an enclosed space for their baby to sleep such as a cot or Moses basket, a box may be a better alternative than co-sleeping with a baby in hazardous circumstances, such as on a sofa. However, based on the evidence currently available, we do not not believe it is factually correct to directly link the use of a baby box with a reduction in infant mortality or SIDS.
Mattresses used in baby boxes
We have also raised questions about the safety of the mattresses used in some of the baby boxes available on the market and advise parents to check that they meet safety standards before purchasing or using a box that has been given to them.
Mattresses for babies must comply with the British Standard 7177 and 1877 and the filling in the mattress needs to meet the standards of our UK fire regulations. This should be clearly labelled on the mattress. The mattress should also be firm, flat and waterproof, in line with safer sleep guidance on reducing the risk of SIDS.
If you have been given a baby box by a professional
In some areas, boxes are being distributed to parents by health and social care professionals, as part of an initiative to encourage parents to follow safer sleep guidelines to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
We support any initiative that raises awareness of SIDS and safer sleep but urge all parents and agencies to ensure that boxes and mattresses supplied to parents comply as fully as possible with British and European Standards and our UK fire regulations.
Our guidance to parents who choose to use a baby box
If you choose to use a baby box as a sleep space, make sure you follow our safer sleep advice and:
- Be aware that there is no direct evidence that the use of a baby box will reduce SIDS or lower infant mortality (despite use in some countries like Finland)
- Be aware that some boxes may be of a higher quality than others
- Be aware that there is no safety standard in existence anywhere in the world that specifically applies to a baby box as a sleeping place for a baby
- Be aware that some manufacturers state that their boxes meet European Union 1130 standard for cots, cribs and bassinets. While some elements of a cardboard box may comply with this standard, for example, wood material, structure and smooth edges, remember that EU 1130 is a furniture standard for traditional cots, cribs and bassinets.
- Ensure that the mattress and mattress filling meets the British Standard 7177 and the 1988 UK fire regulations as amended. The mattress should also meet the British Standard 1877 and this should be clearly and permanently labelled on the mattress.
- Remember that, according to current research and available evidence, we still recommend that a cot or Moses basket is the safest place to sleep a baby.
We also strongly advise the following:
If you decide to use a box to sleep your baby, it is very important to follow this advice:
- Use your baby box for daytime naps only and sleep your baby in a cot or a Moses basket next to your bed during the night
- Do not lift or carry the box around your home if your baby is in it
- Do not put the lid on the box if your baby is in it
- Always keep the box clear as a sleeping space
- Do not place additional bedding on top of the mattress to raise your baby up to a higher level
- Ensure the box is placed on a solid surface and cannot topple over
- Do not use the box if it gets wet or soiled
- Do not put a box on an under heated floor
- Ensure that any pets stay away from the box
- Do not leave the baby in the box unattended or out of view
- Do not use the box once your baby is able to roll
- Ensure that you comply with any instructions relating to the maximum age and weight of the infant for which the box can be used
Do you have questions about baby boxes, SIDS or safer sleep?
Call our information line for parents and professionals on 0808 802 6869 (open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are affected by the death of a child, you can call our dedicated Bereavement Support Helpline on 0808 802 6868.
Both are free to call from landlines and mobiles.