Ruiz Bill to Promote, Encourage Baby Boxes & Safe Sleep Education Clears Health Committee

Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) testifies in support of legislation that provides in-state tuition to undocumented young adults.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz to require the Department of Children and Families to prepare and make available on its website, in an easily printable format, information on the “baby box” and safe sleep education program to expecting and new parents was approved today by a Senate committee.

In 2016, almost 93 percent of all infant fatalities associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome were directly related to sleep and sleep environments, and most often occur to infants less than six months old. In order to combat this, the New Jersey Child Fatality & Near Fatality Review Board (CFNFRB) launched their baby box initiative, partnering with prenatal and perinatal organizations to promote the baby boxes and educate parents on safe sleeping practices. Over 100,000 boxes are expected to be distributed this year.

“We have to ensure that all New Jersey families have the resources to make sure their children are protected,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Baby boxes are a way to ensure the safety of newborns at home and making information about how to obtain them available and accessible to parents, along with information on safe sleeping practices, will go a long way in our effort to promote the wellbeing of infants in our state.”

Under the bill (S3098), the Department of Children and Families (DCF) would post on its website information on the program providing “baby boxes” and safe sleep education to expecting and new parents. It would also provide a website link to the program on its website, and ensure that the link is easily accessible to the public, prominently displayed on the website, and is updated as necessary.

The DCF would also ensure, in consultation with other state departments, that the information posted on its website – and the website link to the program – is also made available on the websites of the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, and any other appropriate state department that provides services to parents or children, and is updated as necessary.

To receive a baby 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 Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved the bill by a vote of 5-0. It next goes to the full Senate for consideration.