When we think of the ideal place to a baby to sleep, it’s likely that we picture a wooden baby crib with a nice mobile hanging above it. However in Finland, that’s not always the norm. Imagine transforming a cardboard box into the perfect place for your newborn to sleep.
For more than 75 years, mothers-to –be have been given a cardboard box by the state. This intriguing starter kit contains necessary essentials such as clothing, blankets and a mattress in the bottom, to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to properly be cared for. The box often times becomes a baby’s first bed.
During the 1930s, Finland was a poor country with a high infant mortality rate. Statistics state that 65 out of 1,000 babies died. In 1938, the government began making “maternity boxes” available to all expectant mothers. In order to be eligible to receive the maternity box, mothers-to-be had to visit a pre-natal clinic before their 4th month of pregnancy. This requirement played a major role in improving the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.
The items offered in the box have changed many times over the years depending on the trends of the decade. During the 30s and 40s, women made their own babies clothes so the government contained fabric; the 50s added ready-made baby clothes and the 60s added a sleeping bag and disposable diapers.
Often times pregnant women could not afford the items contained in the box on their own. Even today, 95% of mothers opt to take the box instead of the cash grant of 140 euros, as the box is a better value.
Today, even though women may not need the box, they get it as a rite of passage. It has become a part of history that symbolizes, “the idea of equality, and the importance of children.”
This incredible tradition is truly an important piece of history. Babies are priceless in every single way. Making sure they get the proper amount of sleep in a safe place with proper essentials is necessary to setting them up for a bright future!