Baby boxes help parents build bonds


Having a baby can be overwhelming.

90 by 30 is trying to make it a little easier.

The county-wide program is dedicated to preventing child abuse by 90 percent by 2030 and in the fall of last year, it rolled out the first tangible program aimed at achieving that goal.

The Baby Box program provides families residing in Lane County newborn essentials and, hopefully, a connection to the community.

“It’s based on Finland’s concept,” said 90 by 30’s Rachel Norquist. “It’s surrounding the goal of a safe sleep system and preventing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) but the box is a vehicle to create a connection with the community so new parents have a support system.”

While new parents in Finland get an empty box for babies to sleep in, parents who receive a box from 90 by 30, get a bit more.

In every box, there are newborn essentials: a sleep sack, onesies, diapers, wipes and sanitizer. But that’s not all. Families are also gifted donated items handmade by organizations like Tummy Time Quilt and Click for Babies Cap. Both organizations create the products specifically for the baby boxes and try to include encouragement even when it’s not immediately obvious.

“The caps for the babies have a lot of purple in them to represent the ‘period of purple crying.’ Just as a reminder to new parents,” Norquist said.

The Period of PURPLE Crying is part of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, a non-profit organization. The goal is to provide information to first-time parents on the misconceptions of “fussy” babies. According to the program, the period of PURPLE crying begins at approximately two weeks and runs until about four months old and is described as a developmental stage. The letters P-U-R-P-L-E- stand for Peak of Crying, Unexpected, Resists Soothing, Pain-like Face, Long Lasting and Evening, a way to remind parents that the crying will pass. 

“It’s reassuring parents that sometimes babies cry and you’re not doing anything wrong,” Norquist said. 

The program’s goal is to reduce frustration through education and decrease the cases of shaken baby syndrome. So, volunteers incorporate the color purple into their blankets and caps for the baby box. 

“You should see their faces when they get this box,” Norquist said. “Some of our low-income families say they finally have a space for their baby.”

Since its conception last October, the program has handed out 26 baby boxes with only a staff of volunteers and one paid employee. “I come from corporate America and when we launched this box I said, ‘Guys, we just launched a product,’” Norquist said. “We launched a product with volunteers when it would have taken 30 people and a budget of a million dollars.” 

Baby box applications are simple. South Lane County residents must fill out an invitation—which is less than a page long—or contact Norquist. There are no other requirements for receiving a baby box. 

“It’s a self-referral program. We get people who their friends refer them but mostly it’s a self- referral and all they need is to reside in South Lane County,” Norquist said. 

Currently, the program has 65 registrants and on Thursday, March 15, Norquist was off to deliver another box to a family and its newborn.

To register for a baby box or for more information, visit 90by30.com or contact (541) 870-0689.

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