Valuing baby boxes: what’s important to parents

The introduction of baby boxes is a Scottish policy that is unique within the UK. The policy aims to improve health outcomes for babies and provide practical support for new parents in Scotland. A Scottish Government commissioned pilot evaluation notes that rigorous longer-term studies of impact are required. Developing appropriate outcome measures for these longer-term studies is necessary. While the importance of ‘hard’ health outcomes such as infant mortality and morbidity is clear, wider societal benefits and cultural changes to parenting may also be important. A review of safe sleep interventions found some evidence that providing cheap cribs, along with information about safe sleeping, is associated with reduced sudden infant deaths and increased parental knowledge. However, there has been very little research into the wider social and cultural impact of baby boxes. Such information is crucial for future evaluations. Our work will explore what factors should be considered in future evaluations of baby box programmes. We will conduct analysis of both media coverage of the introduction of baby boxes within Scotland and online parental discussion forums. In addition, we will carry out a series of focus groups with women attending mother and baby groups within the NHS Grampian area. We will purposively sample a diverse group to ensure we include the views of women from different socio-economic backgrounds, educational level, geographical contexts and age groups.

As well as providing invaluable information for future evaluations of baby box programmes, and public health interventions more generally, the research will also consider the role of media coverage and online discussion forums (in addition to the more commonly used focus groups) to inform the development of valuation in economic evaluation models.

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Mandy Ryan

External collaborators: Z. Skea, L. Locock (Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen); H. Morgan (Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen); M. Black (Aberdeen Women's Centre, University of Aberdeen).


Kostrzewa, A., Skea, Z., Locock, L., Ryan, M., Black, M. and Morgan, H. (2020) 'The baby box scheme in Scotland: a study of public attitudes and social value', HSRUK Conference, [Online], 1-3 July 2020.