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In Florida, babies may one day come in boxes

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Florida might put babies in boxes to prevent child deaths.

And it’s not as wild as it first sounds.

A Health Department official discussed “baby boxes” during a Wednesday conference call of the state’s Child Abuse Death Review Committee.

“It’s not a current practice, at least in Florida,” said Mike Mason, director of the Office of Minority Health. “But we need to evaluate the acceptance of the baby-box concept.”

It’s a tradition in Finland that dates back to the 1930s, according to an BBC news article this April. 

“Every new mother, regardless of background or income, gets a baby box from the government,” it says.

“The box contains a stash of supplies—bibs, bodysuits, nappies (diapers), a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products—as well as a small mattress. Putting the mattress in the bottom of the box creates the baby’s first bed.”

The idea is the box especially helps prevent accidental suffocation, especially in home where babies sleep on a parent’s bed because they cannot afford a crib, cradle or “pack ‘n’ play.”

The box also comes filled with “a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys the state gives to expectant mothers,” the BBC story says. “It has been credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.”

A box could fit in a dresser drawer or even placed on the bed, Mason said during the call.

“Let’s focus group this in Florida, just to see,” he said.

Focus groups are planned for Jacksonville and Tampa, through Healthy Start coalitions, Mason added.

He said one was already held in predominantly black Gadsden County, where 25 percent of residents live at or below poverty level, according to Census figures.

A call to that county’s Healthy Start coalition went unanswered Wednesday.

There “may not necessarily be a recommendation at the end … but obviously, if it’s worked in Finland for 75 years, it’s worth looking into,” Mason said.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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