In Milwaukee, around 15 babies die annually directly due to co-sleeping (when an individual sleeps next to an infant in bed and accidentally suffocates them), and nearly 15% of Milwaukee’s infant deaths are related to an unsafe sleeping environment. Milwaukee infant deaths make up an unusually high number of infant deaths – 25% of infant deaths in the state of Wisconsin. While the national average of infant deaths is around 6 per 1,000 live births, Milwaukee’s average number of infant deaths is around 10 per 1,000 live births. In 2012, 96 babies died before their first birthday in Milwaukee, and last year that number rose to over 100. The high infant mortality rate in Milwaukee is an unacceptable problem that is preventable in many ways.
During the summer of 2014, I came across a BBC article that caught my interest. In the article, I read about the maternity packages given to expectant mothers in Finland. As I read, I discovered that each mother in Finland receives a cardboard box filled with a mattress and other infant care items – part of a long-lasting system that sustains a low infant mortality rate there. These baby boxes are not just carriers for infant supplies, but also baby beds.
I realized that this could be a valuable strategy to use in Milwaukee, a city with a high infant mortality rate related to unsafe sleeping environments as well as other social and economic factors. I emailed with the Finnish government and the only company in the U.S. that makes similar Finnish baby boxes – The Baby Box Co. – and began to create the non-profit, Stork & Company of Wisconsin, in an effort to give every child an equal start in life. Our goal for this year is to distribute 150 baby boxes to families in need in Milwaukee, and continue to grow and distribute more boxes in the following years, hopefully lowering the unacceptably high infant mortality rate here.
The boxes are purchased from The Baby Box Co. at a wholesale value, and then delivered to families in need either through hospitals, clinics, or home visiting nurses. This year will be Stork & Co.’s first, and we are hoping to raise $8,500 this year to provide the 150 boxes we need. If you would like more information on Stork & Co., feel free to go to our website for more information at www.storkandcompany.org or our Facebook page (Stork & Company of Wisconsin). If you wish to make a donation, please visit our donation page at Fundly (fundly.com/stork-company). If you are interested in being involved with Stork & Co., contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.