The maternity box has a long, rich history here in Finland. First instituted in 1937, the boxes were initially provided only to low income mothers. At that time, Finland struggled with unusually high infant and maternal mortality rates. In 1937, The Maternity Grants Act was established in an effort to improve access to public health services for new mothers and their babies. Initially, about 2/3 of mothers in Finland received the grant, but by 1949, it was available to all mothers. Over the course of its existence, the maternity grant has been funded through different parts of the government; first, by the National Board of Social Welfare, and currently by Kela (the Finnish Social Insurance Institution.)
As I mentioned, the Baby Box is not available for purchase. To be eligible, Finnish mothers past their 5th month of pregnancy that have had at least one doctor's checkup before the end of the fourth month of pregnancy are eligible to receive either the box or the cash payment. From the time I knew I was coming to Finland with my infant daughter, I knew I wanted to have the experience of the baby box. Other than experiencing it as an important part of Finnish culture, I knew it would provide a cost effective way to acquire some of the cold weather gear needed to live in this climate. Although my daughter turned 6 months old just before we moved, I knew that many items were designed to fit children through the first year of life. I found out about a few buy/sell/trade websites that allowed mothers in Finland access to a baby box and got busy searching for someone willing to sell me their box.
I was in luck, and quickly found someone willing to personally sell me their unused box. It arrived last week, and for me, it was like Christmas morning as I opened it. The contents of each new baby box include:
- 1 snowsuit with insulated mittens and booties
- Sleeping bag/quilt
- 1 light quilted suit
- 1 wool mix suit
- 3 hats (knitted, bonnet, and balaclava hat)
- Tights, socks, and mittens
- 5 long sleeve body suits
- 4 rompers
- 1 long sleeve stretch suit
- 3 pairs of leggings in various sizes
- Matching body suit/legging set
- Long sleeve shirt / matching leggings
- 2 bibs (one feeding bib, one drooling bib)
- Mattress, mattress cover, sheet, blanket and duvet cover
- Baby Care items including 1 set of reusable diapers, scissors, thermometer, toothbrush, hair brush, and bath thermometer)
- Care Items for mom (including bra pads, nipple cream, pads, and 6 condoms)
- 1 book and 1 toy
- 1 Box (can be used as a crib)
Watch a video about the Finnish Baby Box here.
So...what do you think about the idea of a gift box for all mothers? What items would you include?