Living in a box


Finnish Baby BoxBaby Box

While they might not need it, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received a gift of a Baby Box from the Finnish Government for the birth of their first child. While it sounds like a publicity stunt it is actually one of the reasons why Finland has such a low child mortality rate. The state funded gift to each parent is something that other countries should consider seriously to help those who struggle with parenthood in the initial stages.

It started back in 1938 when the Finnish government would send out the box to lower income families expecting a baby which was then rolled out to everyone in Finland from the late 1940s. It is as much about ensuring that the mother-to-be has full medical care throughout the pregnancy too as parents have to see a doctor within the first four months of becoming pregnant to qualify for this gift which means more parents are looked after and screened to ensure health for both mother and baby.

It’s such a simple idea but it has obviously worked as Finland has one of the lowest rates of infant deaths in the world. It shows a degree of care and universality from the government as well as all babies are provided with the same start and opportunity to thrive regardless of class or background. The box also doubles as cot and it is used by 95% of parents in the Scandinavian country – it comes with a mattress, mattress cover, blankets and a duvet. While it might not sound like the kind of start to life many envision for their kids it is something that many Finns feels unites them as a race and is both practical and fun. Alongside the initial bed for the child, the box also contains:

  • Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
  • Light hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
  • Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream, wash cloth
  • Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads, condoms

While it is a great present from the state it is also a great message to send out to parents – that they and their child are valued members of society and that they will be supported. The other 5% of parents that don’t take the box are offered a grant of one hundred and forty Euros instead, but many of these are parents who already have a child and have kept the box and it’s contents and will just reuse them. I love the idea of this box and it’s something that doesn’t cost a lot of money but the message of support and the encouragement to seek medical support throughout the term of the pregnancy is vitally important for all involved. It is also a life saver as Infant mortality has dropped from around 9% when the box was introduced to under 0.2% today which is a great statistic that the Finns should be very proud of.

I doubt that the royal couple will use the box for their new-born but they did say they were grateful for the gesture. Over the next few weeks we will get to meet the third in line to the throne – but for me there’s a much more important little one due to appear in July. Uncle JD soon!


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