By Helena Lee BBC News
For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life. The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers. It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.
Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more. The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.
Contents of the box
- Mattress, mattress cover, undersheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag/quilt
- Box itself doubles as a crib
- 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
- Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22751415