(TRENTON) – The full Assembly on Thursday advanced legislation Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to require the Department of Children and Families to prepare and make available on their website, in an easily printable format, information on the “baby box” and safe sleep education program to expecting and new parents.
In January, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to have a statewide baby box program. The program, introduced by New Jersey’s Child Fatality & Near Fatality Review Board, educates new parents on safe sleep environments and Sudden/Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome. Over 100,000 boxes are expected to be distributed this year.
“Safe sleep education as well as education on the use of baby boxes is important to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome prevention,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “The program is unique and should be codified into law so that all expecting mothers and families are preparing sleep spaces wisely for their baby.”
Under the bill (A-4648), Department of Children and Families (DCF) would post a website link to the program and ensure that the link is easily accessible to the public, prominently displayed on the website, and is updated as necessary.
In addition, the DCF would also ensure, in consultation with all other State departments, that:
(1) the information posted on its website is made available on the websites of every State department, and is updated as necessary; and
(2) a website link to the program providing information “baby boxes” and safe sleep education is posted to the website of every State department, and is updated as necessary.
“This legislation is about safety,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “For 75 years, Finland has given each new mother a baby box. This kit of clothes, sheets and toys has been noted as the reason that Finland has one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. Here in New Jersey, if this bill is enacted, we can proudly say that we have taken practical and vital steps to ensure safe sleep for every newborn child.”
Each baby box is independently tested for safety by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission and can be used until the baby is about 5 to 6 months old. In addition to information, the box also includes diapers, wipes, a onesie, breastfeeding supplies and other baby items.
To receive the box, parents register for free online at babyboxuniversity.com. After watching the 10-15 minute video and taking a short quiz, the parents choose to receive their box by picking it up at a distribution center or having it delivered. Baby boxes have been distributed in Finland since 1949.
This bill would take effect on the first day of the third month following enactment.
The Assembly approved the legislation 73-1. The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee on February 28. It will now go to Senate for further consideration.