The Finnish Baby Box

Have you heard of the famous Finnish Baby Box yet?

If you haven't, it's a tradition that dates back to 1937 when the Maternity Grant Act was passed as a result of concern over infant mortality. In the beginning it was intended for low-income mothers, but later it was settled that all Finnish children are entitled to an equal start in life and so the government awards this grant to all pregnant mothers regardless of social status or income.

The maternity grant was presented in the form of monetary assistance (at the time it was roughly a third of a factory worker's monthly salary) and later in the form of what would be called the Maternity Package (Äitiyspakkaus) or Baby Box. There is still the option of accepting this grant in the form of money (140€) but the actual content of the box (nowadays clothing, blankies, hygiene products etc.) in value far exceeds the 140€ cash you'd receive. (Interested in knowing more? Source here.)

And so the success story was born; infant mortality decreased even further (infant mortality in Finland in the 30s and 40s was already among the lowest in the world) by this simple idea: a box of basic supplies for all newborns and their families became a staple of social equality in our country.

In recent years the product has gotten some international media attention as well and there are commercial versions of it available now also, one of them being Finnish.

In Great Britain they are also testing the idea of the baby box, and it remains to be seen if other countries will follow.

One of the things that gets the most amused attention regarding this box I guess is that the box itself serves as a first bed for the baby: and it actually comes with a nice mattress and blanket! So yes, in Finland we really have a tradition of babies sleeping in boxes and we are proud of it too! The idea of the box is that it serves as a clean, cozy first nest for the baby, where they can sleep safely regardless of their surroundings.

Everyone preps as little or as much as they can for the new family member, and the content of the box gives a really good idea of what the actual essential must-haves are with your new family member. I've interpreted it so that if an item's not presented in the box, it probably won't be needed in the first few weeks.

We sleep on the floor on a futon so having the baby up high in a crib or something like that sounds really awkward, and so I will definitely have a try with the box. Apart from being filled with baby bodysuits, wool layer, down overall, sleeping bag, talcum powder, a reusable diaper and manymany more things the real fun is pimping the baby box giving the bed its own look!

To start with, I made a very lightly padded liner out of stonewashed linen to cover the cold cardboard walls of the box. For when our lil guys' a little older I also made his first bed cover with geishas, snakes and skulls on it, a fabric I found at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London last February (actually just a few days after doing a positive pregnancy test, before I even knew we were having a boy!). Isn't it cool! The pillow I made out of faux sheepskin in the back and a handwoven krokbragd test piece from last spring.

Soon, so soon I will get to meet the inhabitant of this box!! I can't wait!

#baby #homelife #textiledesign #heritage #craftdesign

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