If babies came with a handbook, would parenting and child-raising be easier? Hard to say for sure. How what about a box, filled with the essentials your little bundle of joy would need in its first few months? Wouldn’t that be helpful? Probably, yes. Finland has been providing its babies with a free box of items for decades. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and is designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.
The baby box is filled with lots of useful items including: bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding, and a small mattress. Yes, the bottom of the box is a mattress. Regardless of social class or status, countless babies have had days/nights of rest within the four walls of a simple cardboard box. Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros. The contents of the box totally outweigh the cash with the longevity of its supplies, and that’s probably why 95% of parents opt for the box. Everything in the box is gender neutral, so siblings can share and pass down clothes. Taking the grant, however, is quite common for people that have had more than one baby. The items have kept up with the times, with changing clothing styles and materials being used, and now they also include a couple of picture books. More than anything, this box can be seen as a symbol of the importance of children, their well-being, and equality.
The baby box seems like such a great idea. A few other governments have taken on the idea as well. The Finnish Baby box company that supplies the boxes is now shipping them around the world at a cost to anyone that wants to purchase them. The latest place to take on the baby box is Ontario, Canada. “About 80% of parents who receive their baby box, do use it as a primary safe sleep space for their infant, up through at least six months of age,” said Jennifer Clary, CEO of The Baby Box Company. The mattresses are tested and made with the best care.
Some attribute the baby box to Finland’s extremely low infant mortality rate. According to the WHO, in 2015, 4.5 million (75% of all under-five deaths) occurred within the first year of life. The risk of a child dying before completing the first year of age was highest in the African Region (55 per 1000 live births). This is over five times higher than that of the European Region (10 per 1000 live births).
If providing something like a baby box to expectant mothers could even possibly help decrease these numbers, shouldn’t this be the standard practice in all countries? Caring for our society in ways that will better the lives of children, who will grow to be the citizens that live and lead the nations, will only help make this world a better place. Not everyone is lucky enough to have family and friends or even the means to go to a charity/donation facility to help with bringing a child into this world. Having a baby box could at least give a child a fair start to life.