In my stumbling around the internet I came across an article that explained the ‘baby box’ offered in Finland. It is claimed to be the policy that has helped Finland dramatically reduce their infant fatality rates.
The box which is offered to all mothers who go to prenatal care in the first four months of their pregnancy are provided with the box which can double as a crib and has all of the necessities for when you take your baby home. What has been provided in the box has changed since its introduction but currently it includes a mattress in the bottom of the box (so it can be used as a crib), nappies, clothes(in ‘unisex colours and patterns’), bra pads, snow suits, hats, mittens, booties, towels, wash cloths, nail scissors, toothbrush, hair brush, nappy cream, teething toys, a picture book, sheets, sleeping bag and blankets. Dummies and bottles have been removed to promote breast-feeding and they have returned to cloth nappies for environmental reasons. The box that is trying to ensure that no mater what the child’s family’s financial position is like they all have the same, equal start to life seems to be a huge hit in Finland. It has become a right of passage when you are having a child to get the box, which for many is the first tangible thing they have for their child.
The benefits of the policy surrounding this baby box aren’t just what the mother is pulling out of the box but the fact that it has ensured that women are receiving the pre natal care that they require, by having it so that to get the box a pregnant woman must access prenatal care in the first four months of the pregnancy have ensured that any problems are picked up early and can be cared and planned for. While the box is available for free to the women by the government they have to choose whether or not to get the box or some money to help pay for the things the child will need the over whelming response is to take the box rather than the cash.
Which has be thinking, with the federal government removing the baby bonus in favor of family tax benefits could introducing a box like the one they have in Finland be a viable policy option?
You could provided expectant mothers who are accessing prenatal care an option of taking a baby box which provides many of the necessities for the babies first few weeks or access to additional family tax benefits. I think that an introduction of a baby box could be a great start to helping a generation of children have an equal start out in life.
You can find our more about the Baby Box here
You can find our more about the change in baby bonus and family tax benefits here and here
National Womens Officer 2013