Since 1938, the Finnish government has been giving expectant mothers in Finland free boxes filled with baby items. The box is designed to serve as a safe infant sleeping spot.
The Äitiyspakkaus (maternity package) started as a way to address the country’s high child mortality rate as well as declining fertility among Finnish women. Mothers had to undergo a medical exam at a maternity clinic to receive one of the boxes, which led to prenatal care becoming more common.
The original baby box contained sewing patterns and white fabric so mothers could sew clothing for their newborns. Then, in 1942, the government introduced the cardboard box that could serve as a bed for families that lived in small homes and needed a safe, clean place for their babies to sleep.
In 2017, Discovering Finland shared a photo of the contents of a baby box during the 80th year of the tradition on this Facebook post:
The 2023 edition of the box will include 38 different products, including the following:
- Outdoor clothing and blankets
- Hats, socks and gloves
- Blankets, bed linen and towel
- Baby care supplies
The box also includes a mattress and several items for the new mom’s postpartum recovery.
TikToker @keloo.kielo, an American woman who moved to Finland and recently had a baby, shared a video of her box.
Parents do have to submit a claim for the maternity package at least two months before their estimated due dates. Maternity packages are available for multiple births and adoptive families, as well.
Finnish parents also receive financial support in the form of a monthly stipend, which is paid until the child turns 17.
Finland is not the only country that provides baby boxes to new parents. For instance, Scotland began providing a package of essential items in 2017, containing items such as :
- Clothes for newborns and babies up to 6 months
- Underarm and bath thermometers
- A bath towel
- A changing mat
- A mattress, mattress protector, and two fitted sheets so the box can be used as a bed
The New Jersey Department of Human Services also offers similar boxes to families living in the state.