The Welcome Baby Box has been selected by all our rural regions as a key child abuse prevention strategy - and it's currently being implemented in South, West, and East Lane County. 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. But it's more than somewhere to sleep; the box is stocked with parenting essentials and resources that provide a connection to the community. By decreasing parental isolation and offering support to parents when they need it most, the Welcome Baby Box provides not only physical essentials but a social and emotional tie to neighbors. It's modeled on the famous Finnish Baby Box, which many credit with reducing Finland's infant mortality rate by providing a simple, portable for babies to sleep that reduces the chance of SIDS.
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, the first of 90by30's regions to launch the WBB program, kicked off the effort in 2017 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. West Lane started delivering its first Welcome Baby Boxes in 2018, and the knowledge gained in South and West Lane will be incorporated into the WBB programs in the McKenzie, East, and North reigons.