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Finnish Babies Come With and Sleep in Cardboard BoxesJune 20, 2014
It might sound like a really sick joke but in fact newborn babies in Finland actually do come with a cardboard box in a traditional that is almost 100 years old! The boxes are a gift from the government and come filled with all the basics that a newborn will need - The box itself can even be transformed into crib for the baby!
The gift box from the government comes packed with a sleeping bag, clothing including outdoor gear, socks and mittens, bathing and hygiene products, nappies, toys and even a mattress and sheet that can be used to convert the box into a crib.
The tradition began in the 1930 and is aimed at ensuring that all babies received an equal start to life no matter what their social and economic backgrounds were. Mothers can still receive the gift box or a cash grant from the government valued at around R2000 - almost all mothers choose the box as its contents are worth far more than the grant. But the gift is not without strings - in order to be eligible, the mothers need to visit a doctor or at least a government antenatal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy. While this system might be effective for ensuring that mothers get the special check ups that they require, many mothers and fathers see it as a sign that their government really cares about them and that the government is determined that no matter what the babies situation is that they get a good start to life.
The Finnish government has changed the contents of the box over time to keep up with parenting trends and recommendations. When the box first appeared it was packed with fabric as mothers were used to make their own clothes and as ready made clothes for babies became more popular and accessible, the Finnish government included them into the box. The box itself was included to try and discourage parents from letting their babies sleep in the same bed as them. When disposable nappies were invented they were added to the pack in 1969, and as science pointed more towards the health benefits of being breastfed, the government removed the baby bottle and Finland saw a massive increase in super healthy breastfed babies.
It might be this governmental emphasis on caring that has made Finnish mothers the happiest in the world and also reduced infant mortality to the lowest in the world.
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