Finland's Maternity Boxes Are Filled With Awesome Stuff for New Moms

I’m not quite sure how this little tidbit of trivia ended up in my brain, but a while back, I learned that in Finland, the government gifts what’s called a maternity package or maternity box to all new mothers. Essentially it’s a baby starter kit full of clothes, diapers, and other assorted things that are useful to have around when you’ve just become a parent; many even credit the box for the fact that Finland has one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. I’d never actually seen exactly what’s inside a Finnish maternity package, though — until last night, thanks to the wonders of Reddit.

Yesterday, Redditor GrumpyFin posted an Imgur album of her newly-received box in a thread titled, “I know Reddit has been interested in Finland’s Maternity Box, the box every woman in Finland gets. Mine came today so I thought I’d show you all what I got.” The whole thing is just as magical as it sounds; the album features a gorgeous and quite sizeable box filled with:

  • Outerwear, including a snowsuit, hat, mittens, and a second warm body suit
  • A sleeping bag and sheets
  • A whole bunch of clothing in gender-neutral styles and color
  • A cloth diaper
  • A towel
  • And assorted other odds and ends, including a book, a toy, some baby hygiene products, nursing pads, and so on and so forth.

Oh, and the box itself has a mattress built into the bottom of it, enabling the baby to use it as a crib for the first part of its life. Here, take a look at the album yourself:

You guys. This is the best idea ever. Why doesn’t every country in the world do this? GrumpyFin noted in the post that every mother in Finland is eligible for these boxes after they’ve been pregnant for 154 days. All they have to do is fill out a basic form and submit a certificate of pregnancy from their doctor to Kela, the Finnish social security institution. Even adoptive parents can get in on the action. And the best part? It’s free, and it’s available for every single expectant mother, regardless of income level or anything else.

According to the BBC, the tradition dates back to 1938. Initially the maternity box was only offered to low-income families, but it was opened up to the entire country in 1949. It served a dual purpose, too: Not only did it give new families what they needed to care for their newborns, but moreover, the requirement that each expectant mother present a certification verifying their pregnancy from their healthcare provider ensured that women would actually, y’know, visit the doctor. Infant mortality rate in Finland in the ‘30s was high — 65 out of 1,000 babies didn’t make it — but, as the Beeb notes, infant survival statistics vastly improved in the decades following the box’s introduction.

So there you have it. To be honest, a lot of the world could probably stand to take a few cues from the Scandinavian governments; in addition to neat-o things like Finland’s maternity packages, university is generally free, healthcare is good, culture is valued, and so on. Sounds kind of awesome, doesn’t it?

Maybe I should move…

Images: M Glasgow/Flickr, Imgur