A Safe Sleep Question: Are Cardboard Boxes Safe? 

May 5, 2017

In recent months, we’ve been hearing more about the use of cardboard boxes as a replacement for bassinets. Our Operation Safe Babies partner, Cribs For Kids, has released a helpful response detailing why they do NOT endorse cardboard boxes as safe sleep environments and will continue to recommend only Pack-n-Plays. In a recent post (shared in part, below), they’ve also provided a list of valuable resources to help address the questions in your communities:

At Cribs for Kids® National Infant Safe Sleep Initiative, our commitment to providing safe sleep environments to infants has been our focus since 1998.  For safe sleep, we have chosen to provide our partners and clients a Pack ‘n Play® portable playyard unit that is designed and manufactured specifically for our program, along with the Safe Sleep Survival Kit, which includes a Halo® SleepSack® wearable blanket, Philips Soothie pacifier, safe sleep educational DVD, Pack ‘n Play® assembly video, Charlie’s Kids Foundation “Sleep Baby Safe And Snug” book, and other educational materials about the ABCs of safe sleep, and room temperature and smoking around babies. We vetted many products, but chose to use the Pack ‘n Play® due to its safety record, longevity of use, and low cost.

We have elected not to use a cardboard box unit for our infant safe sleep initiative based on the following safety concerns and quality delinquencies listed below.  In addition, cardboard boxes do not currently meet U.S. ASTM bassinet safety standards:

1.  SAFETY:

Below are product safety warnings offered by a company that is recommending cardboard boxes for babies, followed by Cribs for Kids’ responses concerning potential hazards that could occur if a parent  uses a cardboard box as a temporary sleeping environment.  A primary safety concern is that babies will outgrow the cardboard box between two and four months of age, which is the age range during which a majority of babies are dying from accidental, sleep-related death and sudden unexpected infant death. When the baby outgrows the box, it will most likely end up in bed with the parent(s) or on another unsafe surface.

[Read the complete post from Cribs for Kids HERE.]

2. LONGEVITY:

“How long will the baby be able to use a cardboard box?

On the website of one cardboard box company, the company recommends that “[M]ost babies are comfortable in their Baby Box until 8 months of age.” A more accurate estimate is 2-4 months. Some newborns will actually roll onto one side to sleep in their very first days, but most babies seem to lose the ability to roll onto their sides independently within the first month. By 4 months of age, babies can develop sufficient upper body strength to use his/her arms. By 6 months old, most babies have mastered not only the belly-to-back roll, but also the reverse back-to-belly maneuver.

[Read the complete post from Cribs for Kids HERE.]

3. WHY WE USE THE PACK ‘N PLAY FOR OUR NATIONAL SAFE SLEEP INITIATIVE:

  • Its safety record is UNMATCHED
  • The Pack ‘n Play® is compact, easy to assemble, and easy to transport in its carry case, making it easy to take on the go any time needed.
  • When space is an issue the Pack ‘n Play® serves dual purposes;  it can be used when the baby is sleeping, or as a playpen for the first year of life.
  • The Cribs for Kids® Pack ‘n Play® mattress fabric has a higher than average air permeability rating (see chart at http://www.cribsforkids.org/graco-pack-n-play-air-permeability-statement/)  The unit manufactured specifically for Cribs for Kids® is listed as “Graco Unknown.”
  • Cribs for Kids® Pack ‘n Play® ships to all US states and international.  Shipping is free to mid-Atlantic and mid-west states served by Ohio Pitt Express.
  • It is THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE UNIT FOR SAFETY, VALUE, AND LONGEVITY

[Read the complete post from Cribs for Kids HERE.]

4. VALUE:

A cardboard box unit with no additional items may cost approximately $25 ($100+ with accessories) and can only be used for approximately three to four months, barring wear and tear.  The Pack ‘n Play® costs Cribs for Kids Partners $49.99 and can be used for babies up to 30 and 35” and more than one year of age.  Regardless of the cost difference, babies need a safe sleep environment throughout their first year, not just the first two to four months.  When the baby outgrows the box, another SAFE sleeping environment will need to be provided. Otherwise, the baby will likely be placed in bed with the parents, siblings, or on other unsafe surfaces, such as couches and car seats.

[Read the complete post from Cribs for Kids HERE.]

5.  RESEARCH:  Cardboard box companies have implied that Finland has a low infant mortality rate due to the distribution of boxes to all Finnish mothers. Finland’s low infant mortality rate is due to a combination of accessibility to healthcare (socialized medicine), education, and economic resources to provide for the family after the baby is born. Maternity leave is 105 week days, of which the mother receives 90% of her pay and then over 70% of her pay for the remaining maternity leave. Paternity leave/parental allowance may occur when maternity leave ends, which could potentially result in close to an entire year of parental care for the infant without significant financial hardship to the family.

[Read the complete post from Cribs for Kids HERE.]

6. NATIONAL SUPPORT:

Every year in the United States, more than 3,500 infant deaths occur due to accidental suffocation, asphyxia, or undetermined causes during sleep. Since 1998, Cribs for Kids® National Infant Safe Sleep Initiative has been making an impact on the rate of babies dying of sleep-related death in unsafe sleeping environments.  Cribs for Kids® is a 501 (c)(3)organization whose mission is to prevent these deaths by educating parents and caregivers on the importance of practicing safe sleep for their babies and by providing Graco® Pack ‘n Play® portable cribs to families who, otherwise, cannot afford a safe place for their babies to sleep.  All proceeds from this national infant safe sleep initiative fund resources and programs that are offered at no cost to our partners.

Cribs for Kids® offers parents and caregivers a wealth of infant safe sleep information on its website at www.cribsforkids.org, including an “Ask the Pediatrician” link for parents, educators, and caregivers who require more detailed answers to their questions.

[Read the complete post from Cribs for Kids HERE.]

Learn more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies Program HERE, thanks to a partnership with Cribs for Kids.