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Put SA babies in boxes

Finnish newborn babies sleep in cardboard boxes. Should South Africans do the same?

Put SA babies in boxes

Image: Shutterstock

It may seem cruel to put a newborn baby in a box but in Finland it's been standard practice since 1938, according to BBC News.

The maternity package is filled with everything a new mom could need for her baby and it's a free gift from the Finnish government to all expectant mothers. No matter their social standing or financial situation, every baby is granted the same start in life. In a world where the rich and poor are so often treated differently, it's a heartwarming notion that babies have no concept of that division.

For many Finnish babies, the box that contains all of the goods is often the place where they have their first nap. The box has a mattress on the bottom and is the perfect size for a newborn. This tradition started in 1938 when many new babies didn't have a clean place to sleep once they left the hospital.

The package contains:

  • A mattress, mattress cover, fitted sheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag or quilt
  • The box itself which doubles as a crib
  • Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
  • Light-hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
  • Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream and wash cloth
  • Nappy set
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads and condoms
Fighting infant mortality

In the 1930s Finland's infant mortality rate was skyrocketing but with the start of the maternity package, moms then had the appropriate clothing a warm, clean and dry place to let their babies sleep. This plus support from hospitals meant that the mortality rate in infants has dropped to almost zero.

I personally think that South African parents and babies would benefit greatly from a similar initiative. Clothing, nappies and a tin of formula for those who need it could go a long way in helping newborn babies in our own country have a better start at life. Plus the box would be perfect as a bed for little ones who live in shacks or on the street.

As one Finnish dad said after receiving a box for his newborn, "It strengthens that feeling that we are all in this together." And more than anything else, a new parent needs just that, support.

Free printables for new mom and baby
Birth Plan
Baby Layette
Nursery rhyme posters


Should the South African government consider starting an initiative like this?
By: Robyn Addinall

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