For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s a starter kit of clothes, sheets, and toys that can even be used as a bed.
Mothers have a choice between taking the box or a cash grant, which is currently set at 140 euros (US$190), but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more.
Originally created for families on a low income, the maternity package became available to all parents in 1949. Since then, it’s been a staple of new parenthood and a sign that no matter what their background, all Finnish babies will get an equal start to life.
For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state that serves as a starter kit for their new baby. It contains clothes, blankets, and other newborn necessities, and the box itself--which is lined with a mattress--can even be used as the child's first bed. It is believed that these baby boxes have helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.
The tradition dates back to 1938. In the 1930s, Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high, but the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed. The contents of the box have changed a good deal over the years, reflecting changing times. During the '30s and '40s, it contained fabric because mothers were accustomed to making the baby's clothes, but the fabric was replaced by ready-made clothes in the '50s.