Guest blog by Susanna Heiskanen of Tuutu Baby Box
The Finnish Baby Box has been around for over 75 years. Over 3 million boxes have been given to families by the Finnish government over the years. It was written into Finnish law in 1937 that expectant mothers were entitled to a Baby Box and in 1949 this was expanded to include all expectant mothers unrelated to their socio-economic circumstances.
Why has the Baby Box been so popular with the Finns? One of the reasons is that the box has really everything you need as a parent. Having received the box you would not need to buy a thing if you did not want to – the box doubles as a bed and the content is enough for the first few months and beyond. The box also promotes equality amongst parents and kids. Everyone has the same start in life and you can tell what year children were born in based on the clothes they were wearing. There are some products in the box such as muslin wraps that have been there since the beginning.
The Baby Box was introduced together with the Neuvola program. Neuvola is a midwife driven ante- and postnatal clinic system that everyone is entitled to. It was a condition of receiving the Baby Box that the mother has to attend the prenatal program that educated mothers about breastfeeding, vaccination, safe sleeping practices and many more useful topics. The Neuvola system is still going strong and it reaches nearly all expectant mothers and their children under school age.
Are there any real benefits using the Baby Box?
The Baby Box promotes safe sleep practices and the clothing and products are all useful and something that you would have had to buy if you had not received the box from the government. The crucial early pregnancy care with free essential goods makes the box such a great preventative public health care initiative. The parents are also more likely to attend postnatal care after receiving the box and having already attended the prenatal care.
Has the infant mortality rate dropped because of the Baby Box scheme?
Believe it or not, there has never been a clinical study in Finland or any other country (at the time of writing this) investigating the benefits of the Baby Box. The drop in the infant mortality rate in Finland is linked to better ante and postnatal care through the Neuovola system that together with the Baby Box has addressed some of the issues that were linked to high infant death rates. The Baby Box was a freebie for the parents that in turn motivated them to attend to the ante- and postnatal care.
What about Australia?
There are already countries like Canada, USA and UK who are have pilot programs to study the benefits of the Baby Box concept. These countries have higher infant mortality rates than Australia and it’s hoped that the Baby Box concept will help to address some of the underlying causes. Countries like Scotland are rolling this out as a nationwide scheme in the New Year, and the rest of the UK is trialling and providing Baby Boxes in geographical areas where the infant mortality rate is high.
At the time of writing this blog there are no large-scale study programs underway in. There are few pilot programs in different States and we will follow these trials with interest. It would be a great thing to be able to provide the right start in life to all babies in Australia and we hope that the government will consider having the Baby Box scheme adopted here. If such a program is developed the hope is that it also has an educational part attached for the parents as it does in Finland through the Neuvola program.
Although the Finnish Baby Box comes with all the required necessities we know how confusing it is to decide what you need to buy your baby. We have taken the stress out this and offer a FREE checklist for parents based on the Finnish model listing the basics you need to purchase when shopping for your baby.
Remember that you can get 20% off any Baby Box purchase from Tuutu when you sign up for our newsletter.
About the author
Susanna is a mother of two lively boys and lives in the leafy eastern suburbs of Sydney, Australia. She is co-founder and owner of Tuutu Baby Box company and in her spare time she finds time to do some running.