Finland is famous for its cardboard “baby box” program, which gives every new baby a big cardboard box full of everything that should be essential in a baby’s first year. It has clothes, warm winter clothes and supplies, blankets, a couple toys and books, cloth diapers, toiletries, and more. The cardboard box has a mattress in the bottom and is designed to be a safe bed for a newborn to sleep in.
The idea behind Finland’s baby boxes is to create an “equal playing field” in which every baby, regardless of its parents’ financial situation, will have all its basic needs met. The program has been an enormous success in Finland, and now Scotland has decided to roll out one of its own.
According to Mashable, Scotland has announced that it will be running a three-month trial of the baby box program in two counties, and that by this summer it will be a Scotland-wide program.
“Scotland’s Baby Box is a strong signal of our determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life,” said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Finland’s program is a famous success. It has been in place since 1938, and has often been credited with helping to reduce Finland’s then-high infant mortality rate. The infant mortality rate in Finland is now the lowest in the world. Finland was a very poor country in the 1930s, and there have been a lot of changes there since the box program was initiated in 1938, including access to prenatal care and national health insurance, but parents in Finland for the past 75 years have said the boxes are a tremendous help.
The Finnish program is so successful that a couple companies have started selling the boxes, or copies of the boxes, to parents in the U.S. and other countries. They’re lovely and cute, but they start at $450, and it’s not quite the same as receiving one for free because the government is committed to the idea of having all babies getting a fair start at life.
Scottish parents will start getting their boxes this summer, and it seems remarkable that there’s been no real government opposition to the program. According to Mashable, the box program is being implemented by the Scottish National Party, and Scottish Labour–the opposition party–says its only real criticism is that the boxes should also have items to encourage breastfeeding.