Since the 1930s, the Finnish government has provided a free baby box of essentials to help with the arrival of a newborn. What a brilliant way to ease the stress for new parents – should we have a similar scheme?
I was old enough to remember when my little brother was born (and, to my initial horror, for my mum to teach me how to change nappies as part of my sisterly duties!).
As he was the fourth child of the family, my parents were lucky to have enough hand-me-downs and gifts to avoid a mad rush to the shops to buy essentials such as nappies and clothes before the birth.
But being fortunate enough to use hand-me-downs and thoughtful gifts isn’t always an option for parents-to-be. However, if you’re a parent in Finland, worrying about what your newborn baby will need is a thing of the past.
All the essentials are covered
It’s become a tradition in Finland for the government to supply every expectant parent with a box, much like a starter kit. It can include a mattress, mattress cover (cleverly enabling you to turn the box into a baby bed), baby sleeping bag, bodysuits, a hooded bath towel and a whole array of other goodies for babies.
The contents of the box have varied over the decades. But, as all boxes contain the same items in a given year and are gender neutral in terms of colours and clothing designs, Finnish parents say they can even tell which babies are born the same year as their baby.
Putting parents on an equal footing
A recent survey by LV= concluded that the cost of having a baby could amount to around £9,152 for the first year. Clearly, worrying about what to get your newborn doesn’t just involve practical issues, but financial ones, too.
This initiative from the Finnish government is available to all parents, whether they’re having their first or fifth child, and regardless of where they live or how much money they earn. This eases the financial pressure off all parents at the beginning and means families who may not be able to afford some of the baby essentials included in the box are given them for free.
It also puts all new parents on an equal footing, avoiding any competition or one-upmanship that can creep in when new babies are born. And it must be a huge relief to know the key things have been thought of for you, so you can concentrate on the bigger things like a child car seat or pushchair.
I remember my mum being exhausted in the run up to my little brother being born (probably something to do with looking after three energetic kids). Hitting the shops to look for baby clothes wasn’t an appealing option, plus it can be confusing to know what’s essential and what isn’t, so wasting money on needless items is easily done.
Bring the box over here
I don’t see what’s not to like about this scheme – in fact, I’d go as far as to say we should have something similar over here.
But if we did, what would the box contain? When we asked 1,448 parents with children under five what baby products they found the most useless, we were surprised at some of the results. Nappy disposal bins and dummies topped the list of the ten least useful products, whereas baby sleeping bags were one of the most useful products parents had bought.
And when we were researching other interesting baby products, we came across some real oddities! A baby poop alarm or a baby bathroom harness aren’t quite what you’d expect to jump out at you when receiving a starter kit!
So what do you think of having a baby starter kit, and what kinds of things would you like to see in it?