Baby boxes

The Problem

Improving provision of postnatal care and health information for mums in Nairobi's Baby Box pilot programme began in 2018, our first programme to aim to keep newborn babies safer. We believe that encouraging and improving access to postnatal care is key to protecting more mums and babies - our Baby Box programme is designed to do that for mums living in informal settlements in Nairobi.

Goals have been handing out baby boxes to new mothers in informal settlements ("slums") in Nairobi, Kenya. Baby boxes have been provided to new mothers in Finland for over 75 years. In Finland, a box includes everything you need for a newborn baby, all contained in a box, which is used as a cot. This baby box concept is used all over the world, from USA to Scotland, India to Mexico! However, the possible impact of this approach has not been thoroughly tested in a low-income environment.

The box we've been giving out to families in the pilot programme is a much more simplified version than the packed box a mum would receive in Finland or Scotland. We're investigating whether the box encourages mothers to come back for their postnatal check-up after they have given birth. We'll also find out if using the box as a cot will help the mother and the baby in the first three months of the baby’s life.

This pilot programme is all about finding out the impact that the boxes can have in a city like Nairobi. Our goals for the pilot programme are:

  • To measure the impact of the baby box on the mothers' lives in the first three months
  • To better understand the needs of the mothers and their babies in the first three months after birth
  • To find out if the baby box is a successful incentive for mothers to access postnatal care services in a health facility with the help of a skilled health professional.

After receiving a baby box
95% of mums
received a postnatal care check up
According to our endline surveys so far,
95% used the box
either as a safe place for baby during the day or at night

The Latest



This programme is all about collecting evidence.

Does having a box to sleep in help to improve infant safety in the home for families living in urban settlements in Nairobi? Does the incentive of a beautiful baby box mean that more women attend postnatal appointments? These are the questions that this pilot will answer.

The team will be conducting extensive surveys and analysing the data to find out what works. There is already good evidence that this will be an effective approach in this environment. By running this programme, will be able to measure long-term impact, and share that information with everyone!

Where we work

The perfect place to test the efficacy of baby boxes is in certain areas of Nairobi, Kenya.

Here, there is a high proportion of mothers who are severely affected by poverty and living in urban informal settlements ("slums"). Infant morbidity rates are high, so it's an area that needs more protection for the health of newborns and their mums.

All our participants are mothers living in Kangemi and Westlands in Nairobi, where most mums fails to attend any postnatal care sessions at all. Our research has indicated that this group could benefit hugely from some extra, specifically targeted support, particularly around the safety of a newborn.

If the baby boxes are effective, there is potential to scale up the programme in Kenya, and beyond! Already our team are in discussions about running a similar pilot in Sierra Leone and potentially Malawi.


In this pilot programme we are partnering with two health facilities to hand out baby boxes to around 500 women.

During their final antenatal visit to the clinic, mothers are given a little baby hat and a voucher to collect the full box. They then receive the box when they return to the health clinic, with the voucher, for their postnatal mother and baby check-up. In this way we are testing to find out whether the box works as an incentive for the mothers to come back for their postnatal care check-up. 

We monitor the mothers with a full survey three months after they deliver their baby. We will also be collecting additional observations and interviews with a small group of women one month after giving birth.

Our surveys

Our surveys will provide us with information on: 

  • Usefulness of the baby box as a cot, and its contents
  • If there is an increased usage of postnatal care services
  • If there is an increased understanding among mums of their own and their baby’s healthcare
  • If there is an increased understanding of their baby’s needs in the first three months of life
  • Whether there is a need for additional training for mothers


How you can help

If our pilot is successful, we're going to want to scale this programme up. In future boxes, we would love to include items that will impact the rates of the most common child diseases in Nairobi: diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition. Already, our design of the pilot has highlighted an urgent need for better postnatal care for young mothers, so we would love to design ways to tackle this gap in provision too.

We do what works. If this programme proves that baby boxes are effective, we'll want to go big. We hope to issue over a thousand boxes within informal settlements around Nairobi over a period of two and a half years.

We'll need more funding to make that happen. Each baby box currently costs us around £14.

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