Having a baby is a rite of passage for many women, and it can be just as exhausting and confusing as it can be joyous and fulfilling, ditto for the husbands/fathers involved.
In Finland, they have a 75 year-old tradition that has not only made the transition to parenthood somewhat easier, but has also reduced infant mortality significantly: the baby box. Given to all expectant mothers regardless of social class, the cardboard box contains all the essentials needed to give each baby an equal start in life: a tiny mattress and accompanying beddings, snowsuits, body suits, socks and mittens, bath towels, tiny nail scissors, toothbrushes bath thermometers, and cloth diapers. The box also contains bra pads and condoms for the baby’s parents, and even doubles as a makeshift crib.
And now, newborns and their parents across New South Wales are about to get the same treatment.
As part of an AU$1 billion injection into NSW’s state health budget, expectant mothers and fathers will receive a baby box designed to help them cope with the first few days of welcoming a child into the world. So, instead of a cash handout, fledgling families will be eligible for a package containing AU$150 worth of diapers, baby wipes, and pads, along with a sleeping bag and even a picture book.
But what’s the big deal about these baby boxes? For starters, they eliminate a lot of guesswork. New parents often have no idea about what they would need to take care of an infant, and thus end up buying the wrong stuff or items they won’t require until much later (ahem, overpriced baby carriages or strollers rather than diapers or washcloths, for instance).
Also, in Finland’s case, many mothers opt for the box over the alternative cash grant since the former often ends up being worth more. And for some Finnish mums, the appeal lies in the time-saving element inherent in these boxes. If you’re pregnant and working long hours as it is, for instance, you’d probably appreciate not having to go out shopping and compare prices for your baby essentials on top of everything else, knowing that a curated box of these things already await you.
Australia’s baby box currently isn’t as comprehensive or as dynamic as Finland’s is, but it’s still off to a good start, especially when this new policy comes with a hundred new midwives and additional nurse home visits as part of the overall boost.
So, if you’re about to become a parent and are considering which country to have your child in to give them the best start in life, you really ought to consider Australia.