I just spent the last week in Finland, and loved learning about their way of life. One thing that’s brilliant about their culture (and helped decrease their infant mortality rates) are the Finnish baby boxes…
Every new mother in Finland is gifted a maternity baby box. It contains essentials for the first year: clothing, diapers, blankets, towels, baby products, bedding, a snow suit, nursing pads, toys, even a small mattress. Many Finnish babies even sleep in the box! New parents can choose between having the box or cash, but many choose the box because the value is a lot higher than the cash over. “Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,” says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. So it helps guide women to good prenatal health as well (from this BBC story).
Finland didn’t always have one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. Before the 1930s, babies weren’t doing well. 65 out of 1000 babies were dying and the government made this simple change. First they offered the box to just low income mothers, and then to all expecting moms starting in the 1940s.
It’s such a simple, smart idea. I’ve talked about my favorite baby shower gifts and baby registry items here, but the idea of the government gifting women and babies exactly what they need for those first few months is wonderful. It’s no wonder that Finland’s infant mortality rate has decreased significantly. The nesting phase would seem that much less stressful too, knowing everything you need will arrive at your doorstep in a box. There are a few companies that have tried to mimic this brilliant Finnish rite of passage for new moms.
Happy to hear the states of NJ and Ohio are both offering baby boxes as well to expectant mothers. If you don’t live in Finland (or NJ or Ohio), you can buy an original Finnish Baby Box here ($449), and The Baby Box Company which combines infant education with products.
(Images from nesting before Dot was born)