“It’s something the baby can be clean and safe in and have a spot to sleep,” Irma Hall, executive director of the Orillia Pregnancy Resource Centre, said of the cardboard baby boxes.
“These baby boxes are available to every woman who goes online and registers at the Baby Box University website,” she said.
After registering, the moms or moms-to-be watch videos on sleep safety and pass a quiz, giving them a certificate of completion to take to the centre for their free baby box, which comes with a mattress, a fitted sheet and a gift bag with diapers and a onesie.
According to the website of the non-profit Baby Box University, the baby-box tradition is credited with helping Finland achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. Although not the only solution to sudden unexpected infant death, the boxes “provide a clutter-free sleep space that has been shown to reduce accidental and unexpected deaths.”
The parent company, Baby Box Co., claims in a brochure the boxes meet Health Canada standards and all materials used to produce the box have passed inspection.
The Orillia Pregnancy Resource Centre received its first shipment of 60 boxes in July, and the boxes are available for all, even if they are not clients of the centre, which offers all services free of cost.
“We see about 40 to 50 new clients each year, but have a higher running total of that,” she said of the centre, which has been open for 29 years.
Not all clients are expectant mothers. The centre also provides baby formula, diapers, wipes, maternity wear and clothing for kids up to two years old.
Aside from these services, the volunteer-run and donor-sponsored centre offers a 10-week program, ‘Living in Colour’, that aims to help women recover from abortion.
“Sometimes women just come in to talk about an experience they’ve had with abortion,” said Gillett.
The centre has another 10-week program called Home with a Heart, which helps young women become better homemakers and mothers by teaching them about budgeting, cooking, organization and job application.
More information about baby boxes is available free at babyboxuniversity.com or by calling the Orillia location at 705-326-8228. Baby boxes are also available through Lake Country Doulas, who can be reached at 705-305-3047 or on lakecountrydoulas.com