A baby hatch is a place where parents can leave their newborn babies anonymously. The consist of a temperature-controlled room equipped with a baby cradle and incubator. Once the child is placed inside, an alarm is sounded and a welfare working attends to the child minutes later. The hatches were first introduced in Shijiazhuang in 2011.
Currently, there are 25 baby hatches in 10 provinces across China. CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) said there will be more set up in another 18 regions to help protect the estimated 100,000 babies that are abandoned each year in China despite abandonment being illegal.
Often children are given up because of their severe illness or disability by parents who don't have the means to provide for them. Historically, infants are given up based on the sex of the child. Boys are favored since China's strict one-child policy puts pressure on families to produce a male heir.
Some believe that the baby hatches will encourage parents to give up their infants.
Head of the CCWA, Li Bo, says there is no proof that the hatches increase child abandonment. 'Laws emphasize prevention, while baby hatches focus on rescue after the laws are broken,' he said.
Population expert from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Fuxian Yi said, 'I don't think the baby hatches would encourage people to abandon their babies... it's too soon to judge.'
Other's believe improvement needs to be made to China's welfare system to help children, especially those born with illness or disabilities to prevent babies from being abandoned. The abandonment numbers may also improve if China relaxes its strict one-child policy.