I admitedly don’t think about Finland very often. Lately, however, a Finnish tradition has gone viral after the internet learned of Finland’s government-provided “Baby Boxes”. The concept in a nutshell: All expectant parents are given a choice between a cash grant (currently set at 140 euros) or a big box of baby gear that includes everything from baby clothes to bathing products and bedding. Like contestants on popular daytime game shows, most parents choose the box prize over the cash deal. Why? Because A) The contents of the box are valued at significantly more than 140 euros, and B) It basically guarantees that your new bundle of joy will have all the basic necessities for at least the first few months of life. That’s a pretty big burden, lifted.
But as appealing as the Baby Box is, there’s actually more to the concept than a giant baby shower gift basket with a “from your government” gift tag. Firstly, all the products are made in Finland, assuring the quality of each item while supporting the local economy. Secondly, the box itself is intended to be utilized as an infant bed, complete with fitted mattress. This has resulted in an enormous plunge in Finland’s infant mortality rate over the last 75 years: In the pre-Baby Box Finland of the 1930’s-65 out of every 1,000 babies died… a number that has thankfully dropped every decade since.
On a directly related subject: The leading cause of death for infants between the ages of 1 month and 1 year old in the USA continues to be SIDS. A heartbreaking statistic in today’s modern world. There are professionals on both sides of the spectrum suggesting the problem is related to our popular infant sleep practices though. One popular opinion is that placing a baby alone in a crib to sleep (in a separate room from the parents) is risky. Some studies suggest simply being distanced from the mother causes a level of distress in infants, while others point fingers at bad air circulation and airway blockages caused by bedding or toys… with no one nearby.
On the other hand, uneducated bed-sharing and co-sleeping practices carry their own risks. Babies can be rolled onto. Bedspreads can cover faces. Accidents happen.
Keep in mind that I’ve read the statistics and studies for both sides of the argument. I repeatedly see articles that claim there’s no easy answer.
But what if there is?
1930s Finland may have stumbled onto a potential solution: Baby Boxes. At the very least, I have to imagine that over 75 years of increasingly positive statistics must be worth considering… especially for expectant parents.
Think about it this way: Is your bedroom too small to accomodate a crib so baby can be nearby at night? Baby Box! Can’t afford a co-sleeper so baby can safely sleep in bed between you and the hubby? Baby Box! Nowhere safe for baby to lay while staying in a hotel or visiting family? Baby Box! Need a convenient place for baby to nap when you’re working in other rooms around the house? Baby Box!
Still, the concept of putting your baby down to sleep in a box comes across to many Americans as… well… silly! I personally was very excited about the idea when I first read about it and texted a link about Finland’s Baby Boxes to my best friend. Her response (straight from the text message):
“Baby in a box? Sounds like we are going back in time to tennetment housing.”
I was completely surprised by her negative reaction …then realized how odd the concept may sound to a lot of modern American parents. It really made me wonder how those early Finnish parents must have reacted. Maybe something like…
“Wait. Sooooo, you’re giving me a bunch of awesome baby swag… but I have to put my baby down to sleep in the cardboard gift box it comes in? Bahahahahaha!!! No really, where’s the hidden camera?! Will this be on YouTube?!”
Granted, parents in the 40’s probably didn’t use words like “swag” (of course they mentioned YouTube though) but the point is that the Baby Box concept must’ve been a hard pill to swallow, even back then. Nowadays families in Finland see it as a beloved tradition and a welcome right of passage for new parents. The real question now is how to open the eyes of modern American parents to the magic of Baby Boxes… But I think the Baby Box Company has the answer.
I stumbled across BabyBoxCo.com while reading articles online and was immediately intrigued. An American company selling the American equivalent of Baby Boxes, filled with the highest quality baby gear for reasonable all-in-one prices… box-sized mattress included (of course!). I immediately dropped them a line to see if I could get my hands on a sample to review for my blog and am thrilled to announce that they have agreed. So you can consider this my first installment in a series of posts about Baby Boxes. Stay tuned for a hands-on, unbiased review …from a modern American mom who *isn’t* opposed to putting babies in boxes! 😉
Because look how darn cute it is! [Image from BabyBoxCo.com]