Next week at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, Pip & Grow – the scrappy start-up with a social mission – will launch its first industry-challenging safety product: the Smitten Sleep System. Smitten is a portable, durable and recyclable bassinet box designed by a leading infant safe sleep expert to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation for infants 0-6 months old. Made from eco-conscious materials by socially responsible manufacturers in the U.S., Smitten can be carried easily from room to room to provide a safe sleep space for infants everywhere.
Smitten was born when Amber Kroeker, MPH, Pip & Grow CEO and one of the country’s leading child injury prevention experts, noticed a trend in many of the infant death reviews she attended: caregivers, exhausted and overwhelmed, chose easier sleep options – swings, bouncy seats, car seats, couches, adult beds with soft, loose bedding – over safer choices because the easy options were more convenient.
After a particularly grueling day that included three infant death reviews, Kroeker encountered an article about the Finnish baby box tradition. In the 1930s, ashamed of its high infant mortality rate, Finland started distributing cardboard bassinet boxes filled with baby necessities to every mom-to-be in the country. Today, Finland enjoys one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, which many attribute to the bassinet box program. Reading of Finland’s success, Kroeker was inspired. Three years later, after extensive research, collaboration and rigorous testing, Kroeker and her team are ready to bring their next-generation baby box to market. Smitten is the infant sleep box that puts research-based infant safety at the forefront.
Infants can sleep in Smitten for up to six months, the riskiest period for SIDS and suffocation. Smitten is constructed from eco-friendly and infant-safe materials that can support up to 100 pounds. Its sides are slanted to encourage airflow and to allow for easy, nested storage of multiple Smittens. After six months, it can be reused, repurposed or recycled. Smitten retails for $70 and can be purchased online at https://www.pipandgrow.com.
In addition choosing the safest possible construction materials, Kroeker insists that every Pip & Grow business decision reflect her passion for keeping children safe and healthy. When selecting manufactures, Pip & Grow pledged to work solely with U.S. companies that pay their employees a living wage, in an effort to create a manufacturing ecosystem that encourages healthy families. In yet another example of Kroeker’s public health influence, Pip & Grow prioritizes working with manufacturers in economically-disadvantaged communities.
Kroeker talks about her commitment to socially-responsible manufacturing, “It just didn’t feel right to have workers overseas, possibly even minors, crafting a child-safety product. Creating jobs in communities that need them is critical to ensuring safe, secure and nurturing environments for our children. While Smitten can help families address one health issue, what really changes children’s lives is making sure that their parents have access to a living wage and job opportunities.”
Kroeker recognizes that the $70 price tag may put Smitten out of reach for some. That’s why she’s committed to distributing Smittens for free to families in need through partnerships with established community organizations. Demonstrating her commitment to making safe sleep accessible to everyone, just four weeks after Smitten’s soft launch, Kroeker sent half of her Smitten inventory to Louisiana to help families affected by the flood. “It might not have been the best business decision, but these families lost everything. Surely it’s worth the risk to help them get back on their feet,” said Kroeker.
Smitten’s box is printed by Landaal Packaging Systems in Flint, Michigan. For nearly 60 years, three generations of Landaals have succeeded in building, sustaining and growing a packaging manufacturing/service business that has become a force-for-good in the Flint community and the state of Michigan. Kroeker says, “When walking with owner Bob Landaal through the factory in Flint, he greeted everyone by name. The family atmosphere was palpable. You could tell the employees were happy and that the Landaal family genuinely cares about each one. They have been a joy to work with.”
Smitten sheets and mat pad covers are made by Detroit Sewn. Detroit Sewn employs 15 people in Pontiac, Michigan. Whenever possible, Detroit Sewn hires sewers from a program that targets the unemployed and underemployed and provides training in a skilled trade that pays a living wage. Detroit Sewn also works with its employees to increase their skill levels, and provides business training for all the sewers, to encourage future entrepreneurs.
Sleep-related infant deaths are the most common cause of post-neonatal infant mortality. In 2013, approximately 3,434 infants died suddenly and unexpectedly. Nearly half of these deaths were attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the remaining attributed to unknown causes and accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. SIDS and suffocation remain the number one cause of death for infants between one month and one year old.
Evidence is mounting for the use of bassinet boxes as safe sleep spaces. Infant sleep boxes were introduced in Finland in the early 1900’s as part of a concerted effort to reduce infant mortality. Since that time, Finland’s infant mortality rate has decreased from 65 infant deaths per 10,000 to just 3 infant deaths per 10,000. As of 2015, the World Bank ranks the U.S. 43rd in infant mortality rate worldwide, behind countries like Cuba, Bahrain and Malta.
The Smitten Sleep System is ethically produced by Pip & Grow, LLC in the United States. In an effort to support healthy, happy families at home, we only work with U.S. manufacturers that pay their employees a living wage, provide job training. Pip & Grow strives to keep children safe by creating beautiful, environmentally- and socially-responsible products backed by the best available science.
Landaal Packaging Systems specializes in graphic packaging, point of purchase displays and retail graphics. They have been helping their customer’s develop innovative products since 1959. For more information contact:
Landaal Packaging Systems
Terry W. Choate
Marketing/Business Development Manager