Pediatrician to CPSC: Baby Boxes "Scare Me To Death"

Dr. Ben Hoffman, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, testifying to the Consumer Product Safety Commission July 26, 2017.

Pediatrician to CPSC: Baby Boxes “Scare Me To Death”

First published: Jul 28, 2017. Last Updated: Aug 3, 2017 @ 10:33 am with statement from company. Pediatrician to CPSC: Baby Boxes “Scare Me To Death” An official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics told a government safety earlier this week that Baby Boxes “scare me to death.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s July 26 hearing in Washington, DC featured several safety advocates discussing their concerns about Baby Box, including Dr. Ben Hoffman, a professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University Portland. (BabyBargains previously blogged about safety concerns with the Baby Box here).

Dr. Hoffman told the CPSC “We don’t know the boxes are safe. All of the studies being done are sponsored by the industry.”

“Until we can guarantee the public that baby boxes are safe, they scare me to death,” Dr. Hoffman said.

This is the first official statement on the Baby Box by a spokesperson of the American Academy Pediatrics, a group comprising 66,000 pediatricians.

Hoffman urged the CPSC to research the safety and effectiveness of baby boxes. He said parents assume that if the box is being sold or given away for free as a place for baby to sleep, it has been cleared by government safety regulators. However, the CPSC has no safety standards for cardboard boxes as bassinets and does not evaluate products before they come to market.

Consumer advocate and founder of Kids in Danger Nancy Cowles added to the chorus of voices questioning the safety of the Baby Box, especially when compared to certified safe sleep spaces like cribs, bassinets and play yards.

“The biggest concern (with the Baby Box) is that it outlives its usefulness somewhere between three and six months—the very point the child is at the highest risk of SUID and SIDS. So at that point, they are going to be moved to a (possibly) unsafe sleeping environment,” Cowles told the CPSC.

Cowles noted that the Baby Box’s popularity is not being driven by any grassroots movement of parents, but instead promoted by a for-profit company hoping local governments will give out the boxes to new parents.

“This was a product that has gained popularity by a huge marketing push by the company. We have a lot of concerns. I recommend you look at a (safety) review,” Cowles told the CPSC.

In an emailed statement to BabyBargains.com, Baby Box Company CEO Jennifer Clary disputed the notion that the company paid for a recent study on the box’s safety:

We did not commission or influence the Temple University study, which is the only published US Baby Box study to date. Therefore, the comment that “all of the studies being done are sponsored by the industry” is unfounded and can be easily confirmed by a call to Dr. Megan Heere (who lead the stud).

Clary defended the boxes overall safety, citing the track record of similar boxes in Finland. “Baby Boxes have been handed out in Finland for 80 years. Even if a minority of parents actually use them as a sleep space, etc. there is still no way that a government body would hand out an inherently dangerous product for all new citizens over eight decades.”

“Finally, our product has been proactively tested to the existing bassinet standard and the only distinction between our units and bassinets is that there are no legs on a Baby Box. We meet every other aspect of the existing CPSC standard which means that there are no grounds for frequent claims of ventilation issues, flammability issues, etc.,” Clary said.


Below is the entire statement from the Baby Box Company in response to this article:

From our The Baby Box Co. co-founder & CEO Jennifer Clary.

  • Baby Boxes are only safe when they are used properly, just as any other infant sleep space is only effective when used properly. This is why we emphasize education, including information on proper product use.
  • We did not commission or influence the Temple University study, which is the only published US Baby Box study to date. Therefore, the comment that “all of the studies being done are sponsored by the industry” is unfounded and can be easily confirmed by a call to Dr. Megan Heere (who lead the stud).
  • An objective comparison of product safety incidents is readily available to the CPSC, to Dr. Hoffman and to the public.
  • Baby Boxes have been handed out in Finland for 80 years. Even if a minority of parents actually use them as a sleep space, etc. there is still no way that a government body would hand out an inherently dangerous product for all new citizens over eight decades.
  • Finally, our product has been proactively tested to the existing bassinet standard and the only distinction between our units and bassinets is that there are no legs on a Baby Box. We meet every other aspect of the existing CPSC standard which means that there are no grounds for frequent claims of ventilation issues, flammability issues, etc.
  • Speculative claims about potential misuse scenarios are not grounds for condemning a product; all infant products have the capacity to be misused in the absence of education to parents, and education is at the very center of our program.

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