Issue Date: 23 January 2019
Designer: Dog Design
The Maternity Package:
The Maternity package (Finnish: äitiyspakkaus, Swedish: moderskapsförpackning) is a kit granted by the Finnish social security institution Kela, to all expectant or adoptive parents who live in Finland or are covered by the Finnish social security system. The package contains children's clothes and other necessary items, such as nappies, bedding, cloth, gauze towels and child-care products. It was first issued in 1938 to parents with a low income, and contained a blanket, crib sheets, diapers, and fabric which parents could use to make clothing for the baby.
Since 1949 it has been given to all mothers-to-be, provided they visited a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before the end of their fourth month of pregnancy, and the pregnancy has lasted at least 154 days. The contents of the package are updated approximately every year.
Following a BBC story in June 2013, the baby box began to receive international attention. Similar packages, commercial or state-sponsored, are being trialled around the world. Private companies have started selling packages purporting to be the "Finnish baby box" or similar to it, but the original boxes are not sold commercially.
In 1949, the box given was standard to all expectant mothers who visited a doctor before the fourth month of pregnancy per the Finnish Maternity Grants Act. A baby bottle was added to the package, but was removed in later packages to encourage breastfeeding. The requirement to visit a doctor as a prerequisite to receiving the package was done in order ensure that the woman received adequate prenatal care.
The box containing the package transforms into a crib in which many newborns have their first naps. A mother may choose to take the maternity package, or a cash grant of 140 euros, but 95% of Finnish mothers choose the box because it's worth significantly more. The maternity package can either be applied for online, on Kela's website, or by completing and returning a form.
The current package contents include bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, nappies and cream, bedding and a small mattress (allowing the box to be used as a crib), a hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, wash cloth, muslin squares, a picture book, teething toy, bra pads, and condoms. Condoms are included by way of precaution, not as a discouragement, as a new pregnancy is possible within a few weeks of childbirth and many parents wish to have a little time between the births of their children.
The maternity package is not a commercial product, and therefore Kela cannot sell it. Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge received a maternity package as a gift from Kela in 2013. Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden were given one in 2012.
Content of the package/ the box contained following items:
- Snowsuit / sleeping bag 68–74 cm (27–29 in)
- Insulated mittens and booties
- Sleeping bag / blanket 95 cm × 95 cm (37 in × 37 in)
- Light-weight overall with hood 68–74 cm
- Wool-blend coverall 68–74 cm
- Wool cap
- Balaclava hood 62–68 cm (24–27 in)
- College overall / jumpsuit 62–68 cm
- Romper suit 50–56 cm (20–22 in)
- Wrap around body suit 50–56 cm
- Bodysuit with extender 62–68 cm
- Bodysuit 68–74 cm
- Bodysuit 62–68 cm
- 2 × Wrap around bodysuit 50–56 cm
- 2 × Leggings 62–68 cm
- 2 × Leggings 68–74 cm
- 2 × Footed leggings 50–56 cm
- Tights 62–68 cm
- Socks and mittens 19–21
- Socks 19–21
- Sleeping bag / nightdress 62–68 cm
- Bedding and linen
- Blanket, off-white 80 cm × 120 cm (31 in × 47 in)
- Duvet cover with pattern of baby footprints on green background 85 cm × 130 cm (33 in × 51 in)
- White sheet 90 cm × 150 cm (35 in × 59 in)
- Protector 90 cm × 150 cm (can be used, for instance, as protection for the mattress)
- Mattress 700 mm × 428 mm × 40 mm (27.6 in × 16.9 in × 1.6 in)
- Pocket nappy and cotton gauze insert
- Towel 85 cm × 85 cm (33 in × 33 in)
- Personal care items (bra pads, nail scissors, toothbrush, digital thermometer, talcum powder, nipple cream, condoms (6pcs), lubricant, sanitary towels, bath thermometer, hairbrush)
- Feeding bib
- Drooling bib / scarf
- First book titled "Lystileikit vauvan kanssa” in Finnish and Swedish
- Cuddly toy / comfort blanket
The program resulted in increased prenatal care for pregnant women, and decreased infant mortality. The program is now considered a part of the culture of Finland.
As of June 2019, there had been one experimental study conducted on the use of baby boxes (a.k.a., "cardboard bassinets"), in combination with safe sleep education, for reducing bed-sharing, which is a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related deaths (SRD). Researchers at Temple University Hospital assigned study participants (i.e., mother-infant dyads) to one of the following conditions for postpartum hospital discharge: standard hospital discharge instructions; standard instructions plus additional safe infant sleep education based on the AAP safe infant sleep recommendations; or both types of instruction plus a gifted baby box from The Baby Box Company. The researchers concluded that the third condition (i.e., both types of instruction plus a gifted baby box) reduced the rate of bed-sharing during the first week of the infant's life (as self-reported by the participating mothers), particularly for exclusively breasfeeding mother-infant dyads.