The Welcome Baby Box is South Lane County's first chosen child abuse prevention strategy. The Box is a safe sleep system – a “Smitten” designed by Portland company Pip & Grow to provide a safe, convenient place for infants to sleep – stocked with parenting essentials and resources. It has been available to every baby born in South Lane County since the end of 2017. By decreasing parental isolation and offering support to parents when they need it most, this version of the famous Finnish Baby Box - which many credit with reducing Finland's infant mortality rate by providing a simple, SIDS-reducing place for babies to sleep - will be a valuable community resource.
The process of putting together the boxes is in itself community-building. One local group is knitting booties. A Lane County business is funding a DVD that describes "The Period of Purple Crying" - a film designed to prevent shaken baby syndrome. Another group has donated diapers and another bottles. The Interact Club at Cottage Grove High School held a bake sale to raise money for pacifiers to go in the boxes. 90by30 and its partners, such as Parenting Now!, HeadStart, local Relief Nurseries, United Way and Lane County Public Health are providing resources and educational materials to support new parents. Building and filling the Welcome Baby boxes offers community members the opportunity to participate and unite around a common goal.
South Lane launched the WBB effort at the Parent Partnership's Community Baby Shower in Bohemia Park. (See KEZI's coverage here.) Since then, dozens of boxes have been distributed through the Family Resource Center. Other regions, like West Lane, are now looking to this example as they pioneer their own Baby Box programs, and interest in Eugene and Springfield is running high.