Barakat Bundle Blog

The History of the Finnish Baby Box

Barakat Bundle is inspired by the Finnish Baby Box, a bundle filled with newborn essentials which doubles as a crib or play space. But what really is the Finnish Baby Box, and what is its history?

Finland launched its baby box program in 1938, when the country had an infant mortality rate of 65 deaths per 1,000 live births. Distributing baby boxes, conditional on prenatal care, was a simple way to provide basic infant care items  and connect families to the health system while  in a way that encouraged families to celebrate the joy of a new birth Originally given to just low-income families, the country spread their baby boxes to all citizens in 1949. Today, Finland’s infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world and it continues to distribute 40,000 baby boxes a year. The box includes 50 items, including bedding, clothing, warm outerwear, socks, diapers, a thermometer, family planning items, books, and toys.

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Despite the correlation between the introduction of the Finnish Baby Box and the decrease in Finland’s infant mortality, no evaluations of the causal effect of the Baby Box have been completed. We hypothesize, however, that there are some key pathways to impact through which the Baby Box improves maternal and child health. The requirement for prenatal care ensures that maternal health is assessed, high risk pregnancies are identified, and health education can be provided to parents,The Baby Box itself is a firm, enclosed area which provides a safe place for the baby to sleep and play to reduce likelihood of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The variety of clothes offered ensure the baby can be  kept appropriately warm or cool in the event of hypothermia or fever, which can also be diagnosed with the thermometer. Family planning items advocate for safe birth spacing to improve maternal health. . Today in Finland, each expectant mother can choose to receive a Baby Box or can opt out of the box and receive a 140 euro cash grant instead. Not surprisingly, only 5% of Finnish mothers take the payout as they embrace the Baby Box tradition and the helpful products in the box. The Baby Box has become a ritual in Finland – every family is excited by their baby box, a literal birthright for their newborn.

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With the growing popularity of the Finnish Baby Box around the world, most notably with the gift of a Baby Box to the British royal family upon the birth of Prince George, similar programs have begun emerging around the world. A Finnish company and an American company have begun retailing boxes and working with governments in Scotland, England, Canada, and the United States to provide baby boxes to new mothers.

Barakat Bundle applauds the efforts of existing Baby Box organizations and takes inspiration from their missions to improve maternal and infant health. We too aim to truly make an impact for babies and their families. Our bundle is unique, tailored to the needs of South Asia, and includes evidence-based, public health solutions for preventable maternal and infant mortality in South Asia. . We take the best, most effective elements from the Finnish Baby Box and modify them to suit our target population, aiming to bring aid and joy to young families. We continue to be inspired by the Finnish model and hope that we can harness their good work into benefits for South Asian families.

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Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/07/world/what-in-the-world/finland-baby-box.html?_r=0

http://www.littlethings.com/finnish-baby-boxes/

http://www.kela.fi/web/en/maternity-grant-history

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

Images from:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

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