I'm writing on behalf of the Finlandia Foundation of Montana, a newly established, Missoula-based organization, to introduce an initiative called Baby Boxes. You might have heard about the concept, as "Baby Box Movement" has generated global and national interest. Several states in the US have adopted the model in the support of new mothers and babies and Montana should not be left behind.
In brief: The Baby Box is a practical tool for supporting mothers with their new-born babies. The Baby Box is a cardboard box that can be used as a first safe sleep space for an infant. The Baby Box comes with a mattress, clothing and other necessary items needed for taking care of a baby from 0 to 6 months old.
The baby box supports the idea of giving equal opportunity for babies of all backgrounds from the very beginning: it’s free (first and for most) for low-income families and won't be handed out without a proper prenatal or infant care education.
The Baby Box originated from Finland, the country who federally has provided free baby boxes over 75 years to all mothers residing and expecting a baby in Finland. This Finnish Baby Box initiative has gained global attention, as it is very practical and smart. It has helped to lower infant mortality rates. In the USA several states and cities have started baby box campaigns and programs, just to name a few: Alabama, Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, Minnesota, Maine, Colorado. Currently, more than 20 states are working on introducing the initiative to their communities.
The Finlandia Foundation of Montana is working through government agencies, hospitals, insurance companies, tribes, corporations, and non-profits to raise awareness about the initiative to distribute Baby Boxes in Montana. A key element in bringing the baby boxes to Montana is to keep the initiative local so that every-penny-possible would stay within the state and go towards our Montana communities and to their target audiences, who are low-income, pregnant women residing in Montana. Another fact is that every mother who receives the baby box must have a proof of infant care education: visited and consulted with a healthcare provider; attended an existing prenatal class; or completed an online course in order to be eligible for the box. The baby box initiative is very much needed in a rural state like Montana, where family income rates are low and distances are vast: access to health care and prenatal education across the state are almost non-existent.
It was so time-consuming, expensive and hard to decide what crib or bassinet to get for my baby, and I was afraid to buy a used one at a garage sale. I waited and waited too long. The baby arrived 2 weeks earlier! I feel like the baby box saved me.
My employer gifted me the baby box as a kind gesture. I was supported at my workplace and felt more prepared for my baby's arrival.
All I asked for was the baby box as my baby shower gift to save money and the environment.
I wanted to sleep next to my baby, so my husband and I lifted the baby box on our bed between us. Everybody slept close, but safe.
The Finlandia Foundation is excitedly moving forward with the Montana Baby Box Initiative. We are reaching out to find supporters, to build partnerships and are simply asking for an opportunity to open a dialogue for further discussion.
Our organization is public, non-partisan and non-profit and we operate for educational and charitable purposes.
Jenni Rohrbach, President