These boxes are lined with a mattress and function like a bassinet. Accompanied with a consistent educational message about safe sleep options, they are meant to discourage parents from sleeping with their babies, which could lead to accidental suffocation.
“This boxinette is another vehicle for education,” said Morgan Nesselrodt, Project Coordinator for the Saint Francis Foundation. “It brings up safe sleep conversations that may not have happened before.”
When parents receive a boxinette, they take a pre-survey, watch an educational video and take a post-survey.
“Our bedroom was too cramped for a full-size crib, so having the boxinette meant my son could sleep safely within arm’s reach,” said Emily Blattel, mother to Nolan born on April 29, 2017. “He slept well in it — as soundly as a newborn can — until we moved him to his own room. Two years later, the boxinette is still part of our family; it serves as an adorable toy box now!”
Every boxinette comes with a sleep sack, pacifier and educational information. The entire package is worth around $80. They are given to each woman who delivers a baby. The boxinettes are funded through the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Saint Francis Auxiliary.
“The 1st Birthday Project is a concerted effort to address one of the most important causes of infant mortality in southeast Missouri, unsafe sleep practices,” said Dr. Karlyle Christian-Ritter, Director of Neonatology and Medical Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Saint Francis Healthcare System. “Deaths secondary to unsafe sleep practices are 100% preventable by utilizing a safe sleep environment. The boxinette provides that safe sleep environment. The key is education regarding the unnecessary deaths surrounding unsafe sleep practices.”
Boxinettes are small and compact. Empty boxinettes can easily be put in the backseat of a vehicle for travel. Nesselrodt says parents often travel with the boxinette.
“The mass distribution of a safe sleep environment along with education and follow up have ensured that every baby born in the 12 distribution counties has access to a safe, comfortable, secure sleep space,” said Dr. Christian-Ritter.
There have been more than 800 boxinettes distributed between four delivering hospitals and the 12 health departments in southeast Missouri since October of 2018. Saint Francis Healthcare System has distributed about 300 of the boxinettes.
If a woman delivers outside of the distributing hospitals, she can go to her county health department to pick up one. Those distribution counties include Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Mississippi, Scott, Stoddard, Wayne, Carter, Butler, Ripley, Dunklin, Pemiscot and New Madrid.