Experts issue warning about cardboard baby boxes as they’re not safer than cots

Cardboard baby boxes should not be used in place of more traditional cots or Moses baskets, warn experts.

Cardboard baby boxes, or Finnish baby boxes as they’re also known, have regularly been promoted for baby sleep as a safe alternative to proper cots and Moses baskets, with many claiming that the use of these boxes reduces the risk of cot death, or SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

But now experts have argued in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that there’s no actual medical evidence to support the claim.

‘We are […] concerned that cardboard boxes are being promoted for infant sleep, as a safe alternative to the more traditional cots, bassinets, or Moses baskets, without any observational evidence in place,’ wrote Professor Peter Blair and his colleagues at the University of Bristol in a letter to the journal.

The idea of a cardboard baby box stems from a tradition in Finland of giving pregnant women a box full of baby care items, including a small mattress that fits into the box so parents can use it as a temporary makeshift bed.

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‘Use of the cardboard baby box in Finland since the 1930s and the relatively low SIDS rate in that country are not evidence that boxes reduce SIDS,’ wrote Professor Blair.

Ensure your baby is sleeping safely with our advice on baby bed safety

‘The scarcity of observational evidence that the cardboard baby box can be used safely (and no evidence that it reduces SIDS), the lack of safety standard regulations in place, and that promotion of the cardboard baby box could serve to undermine current safety messages.’

Despite the potential hidden dangers in cots, the experts warn that the cardboard baby box comes with possible issues as well, including their capacity for flammability and the fact that they’re not particularly sturdy or durable and could easily fall or break if placed at a height or if they’re exposed to water.

They also point out that if the boxes are placed on the floor or at a low level they could be exposed to draughts, pets and young siblings who may be running around.