For almost a century, mothers in Finland have received a baby box when they give birth. The box is full of necessities for newborns and includes a mattress so that when emptied the box transforms into a bed for the newborn. More than 30 countries have adopted this tradition and it is now making it’s way to North America this year.
The thought behind them is that it gives all babies an equal start at life. The boxes include clothes, diapers and toys. Finland has seen great success with this program. By offering the boxes to low-income families who sought prenatal care prior to the fourth month of pregnancy they have seen the mortality rate of infants drop from 6.5%, in the first year of life, to .03%.
Starting this month, a new program in Canada, called “Welcome to Parenthood”, will begin distributing baby boxes in Alberta, Canada. The boxes will be provided by the woman behind the initiative, Jennifer Clary. Jennifer is co-founder of The Baby Box Co. which is the first company outside of Europe make baby boxes. While The Baby Box Co normally sells the boxes, commercially (and what an amazing baby shower gift these would be!) they also work with non-profits and are now teaming up with the Alberta Government to provide 1,500 baby boxes to new parents. These boxes will be customized for the needs of the individual communities.
The boxes created for Alberta will include the mattress, onesies, breast pads, plush toys and access to an online video series where experts answer questions new parents encounter most.
While Canada’s infant mortality rate is already quite low, at 4 deaths per 1,000 births, Jennifer Weber, Government of Alberta’s senior manager of Early Childhood Development Services believes the boxes are still very much needed here.
We know Canada’s doing very well, but Canadians still have parenting issues that are unique to us. We have vulnerable families and many communities with their own particular needs. We have teen moms, single parents, families in temporary accommodation.
While widespread distribution of the boxes is still a long way off the fact this testing stage has arrived is a great sign of progress and will hopefully be beneficial to those who need it.