Homegrown charity brings baby boxes to Kiwi families in need

A Kiwi charity has brought the baby box to New Zealand in an aim to provide the best start to life for vulnerable new born babies.

Founded in 2015, BabyStart gifts more than 40 essential items meant to keep a baby and warm for the first three months of life.

The box contains things like nappies and clothing, a smoke alarm for the room and the case itself also doubles up as a safe sleeping space.

The cardboard box contains a mattress as well as sheets and was manufactured and lab tested in New Zealand.

"A lot of SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) cases for example are happening outside the normal home,"  says BabyStart founder Phil Horrobin.

The vital items are handed through midwives and DHBs. Source: 1 NEWS

"They might go and the baby might sleep on a strange bed or might sleep on a couch, that's when there's the additional potential for suffocation and having something that they can easily take them has huge benefits."

Phil and his wife Claire say their aim is to target the one per cent of the most challenging cases in New Zealand.

"We've had situations where there's been gang violence, drugs, prostitution and women's refuge cases," he added.

"Pretty phenomenal" thing

At the moment BabyStart is working with DHBs across Auckland as well as Northland and Porirua but eventually they'd like to see the boxes reach a Governmental level.

"It's on us to show that they work as, so it's not simply saying to the government this is a great idea, we've got to provide some evidence.

"So we're happy to start out small and grow and if the government thinks it's a good idea on some level whether it be limited or universal we'd be thrilled."

It is a sentiment echoed by midwife Sandy Stephenson, who has given them out to some of her clients and says it would be a "pretty phenomenal" thing.

"It would be showing we’re not biased in who we give it to because at the end of the day we are putting out family first.

"To be able to grow children into adults we need to look after them when they're young," she says.

The boxes are also used as an incentive by Ngati Whatua Orakei at the Weaving Waiora antenatal classes, which focuses on attracting teenage and first time mothers.

"I think it would increase the attendance of our mamas coming to antenatal class and to engage with their midwife earlier rather than later," says head of the programme Tui Makoare.

To help fund more boxes, they are also available for purchase and works on a one for one basis.

"The initial plan wasn't really to sell the boxes but we have had some interest, if you buy a box then a recipient gets an identical box to the one that you get," says Phil.

And he hopes one day the charity can expand and go nationwide, like in Finland where the government has been giving all new-borns their own box since the 1930s.

For details on how to support BabyStart, click here