UMass Memorial NICU baby sleeping safely at home in donated baby box

Lisa Audette with baby box

March 2017

When Hinda Bodinger of Berkshire Baby Box got a call from UMass Memorial’s Lisa Audette, RN (right), about providing a baby box for a family in the NICU, the response was immediate: Yes!

Several weeks later, a UMass Memorial NICU graduate was sleeping soundly—and safely—at home in his baby box. His parents were also resting easy.

“We love the baby box,” said the baby’s mother, who put the box in the downstairs area of her home. “It’s a safe place to put him during the day.”

The idea behind the baby box is to reduce infant mortality rates by promoting safe sleeping practices for newborns. Made of sturdy cardboard and outfitted with a firm mattress and fitted sheet, the boxes are designed to provide a safe place—similar to a bassinette—for infants up to 8 months old.

Bodinger founded Berkshire Baby Box to provide boxes to expectant mothers in her community. She was inspired by the success of Finland’s baby box program, which has been around since the 1930s.

Each of the boxes distributed by Berkshire Baby Box, which are provided by The Baby Box Company, also contain educational materials, such as an infant first-aid pamphlet and a breast-feeding guide. In addition, some supplies are included, such as diapers, wipes, baby books, sleep sacks and other baby/health care items.

Audette first heard about the baby box concept from one of her colleagues in the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Intrigued by how it might help NICU families, she sought to learn more. Through some online research, she learned about the origins of the baby box and that it is gaining in popularity in the U.S.

“At least two states have implemented baby box programs that provide a box to all families of newborns,” said Audette. “And many other hospitals across the country are putting similar programs into practice.”

Online is also where she learned about Berkshire Baby Box. One call with Bodinger was all it took.

“Hinda instantly agreed to provide a box for one of our families,” said Audette. “She is truly dedicated to helping babies and their families. We were delighted to have her support.”