Scotland adopts Finland’s famous ‘baby box’ program. Should we be next?

You may already know that the baby box program has been an important part of the mum and baby postpartum health approach in Finland for 75 or so years. It’s been so successful that it’s being adopted by other countries, with Scotland aiming to ‘box’ their newborns from 2017. How great would it be if Australia was next?!

Thinking outside the box

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the super-positive move in her speech to the Scottish National Party annual conference. She is fulfilling an election promise (imagine that!) and ensuring new mums and babies an extra level of care.

“The first boxes will be delivered to babies born in pilot areas on New Year’s Day. Then next Summer, every newborn baby across the country will receive a baby box full of clothes, nappies, bedding, books and toiletries,” the MP said.

The baby boxes are literally that, humble cardboard boxes. Along with baby-growing essentials, they’re equipped with a comfy mattress, the idea being that babies sleep in the box for the first few months of life.

Small beginnings

That seems weird, we know, but there’s a method to the (non)madness.

The free Finnish boxes date back to 1938. Originally provided by the Finnish government to low-income families in the hope of decreasing then high rates of infant mortality, they soon noticed a widespread improvement in children’s health. Many more babies were living past their first birthdays, where previously 10 per cent tragically did not.

The boxes have other benefits too, helping prepare parents-to-be mentally and ensuring that all babies have a great start in life.

“The baby box is a powerful symbol of our belief that all children should start life on a level playing field. That’s what inclusion means in practice,” Nicola Sturgeon explains.

It’s catching on

The potentially life-saving program is spreading, with South Africa, Zambia, Colombia, Argentina, the U.S and parts of Asia also trialling government or privately run baby box programs.

We’d love it if Australia adopted this bright idea and committed to giving every baby a positive start, whatever their circumstances.

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