Scottish Cot Death Trust statement on the Scottish government Baby Boxes

Scottish Cot Death Trust statement on the Scottish government Baby Boxes

In Scotland, each baby due to be born on or after 15th August 2017, will be entitled to a baby box, gifted by Scottish government. Mothers can opt into the scheme by registering with their midwife during pregnancy. The box, which is filled with products, mostly for baby, but some for the mother, will be delivered to the family home.

We understand that the boxes are being provided as a gift and that the primary function of the box was a receptacle for products not as a sleep space. What has become a secondary function is that the box is being promoted as a sleep space for baby where there is not a safe alternative, for example, in the situation where an emergency or a temporary sleep space is needed, and one where a baby might sleep in a hazardous way such as on a sofa with a care giver.

The Scottish Cot Death Trust was not involved in the initiation, research or implementation of the baby box scheme in Scotland, either during the pilot phase (which took place in two NHS Boards from January 2016), or in the national roll out. We first saw the box and contents once they had been decided upon.

We have advised the Scottish government, on their request, what information might be included in a leaflet on how the baby box can be used most safely. We are not co-partners in the scheme, given the level of involvement we have had.

The Scottish Cot Death Trust remains neutral on whether the box should be promoted as a safe sleep space for babies. There is no evidence that these boxes are safer than baby sleeping in a cot, crib or moses basket but we also do not have any evidence to say they are more unsafe.

It remains the priority of the Scottish Cot Death Trust that all families with babies have information on how babies may sleep in the safest way possible. Where families do decide to use the baby box for their baby to sleep in, they should follow the instructions for use, which are printed both on part of the box and on a leaflet provided within the box.

As an organisation, the Scottish Cot Death Trust is concerned with the safety of babies wherever they sleep. Baby boxes may not be any more or less safe than a cot, crib or moses basket. We do recognise that many babies are sleeping in unsafe sleeping environments and that some baby deaths may be prevented if all babies were sleeping safely. Current guidance states that breastfeeding protects babies against sudden unexpected death in infancy and that babies should not share a sleep space where any care giver, is a smoker, has recently drunk any alcohol, has taken any drugs (prescribed or illicit) which may cause drowsiness, where the baby was born prematurely, was low birth weight (less than 2.5kg), or where parents are overly tired. We remain concerned about the numbers of babies who are co-sleeping with parents in an unsafe way. In an attempt to address this issue, we are currently working collaboratively with Scottish government to review resources that Scottish government issues for families informing them about safe sleep for babies.

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