I’m originally from Finland, a country that constantly received international praise for its generous maternity and family benefits, including 9 months paid parental leave with pay (3 of which is earmarked for the mother and the rest can be taken by either parent) – but the benefit that probably receives the most attention in global media is the maternity package, or “Baby Box”.
The maternity package is a family benefit known as the maternity grant, which can actually be taken either in the form of the package or as a cash sum of 140 euros. Each expecting family in Finland is eligible for the maternity grant, and most parents, especially firs time parents, opt to take the package instead of the cash. The package – often referred to as the “baby box” – is literally a big, decorated cardboard box filled with over 50 essential items that every newborn needs during their first months of life, ranging from clothes to sleeping items t0 reusable diapers, and more. The box can also be used as a safe bed for the baby to sleep in, and comes with a fitted mattress.
The Finnish baby box has gained lots of international attention in the media, including popular articles like “Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes” by BBC, “Nurturing your baby in a cardboard box: The Finnish fad that’s going global” by New York Post – and recently “Baby Box Canada: Finland’s 75-year tradition is coming here” on Huffington Post Canada. As the headlines about the Canadian version of the baby box have recently brought the baby box back in the headlines, we thought it would be great to explore this 75-year old Finnish innovation in more detail and talk to some experts in Finland about the tradition and history behind the box, its current meaning and role in the Finnish society, and its impact on the maternal and child mortality rates in Finland.
In this episode of The Mom Pod, Emma talks with Olga Tarsalainen, a Communication Specialist at the Finnish social insurance institution, Kela; Anneli Miettinen, a researcher at Väestöliitto, the Family Federation of Finland; Jennifer Weber, Senior Manager at the Early Childhood Development Services Unit at Ministry of Human Services, Government of Alberta in Canada, and Jennifer Clary, co-founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Baby Box Company, which has taken the Finnish baby box tradition worldwide. You’ll learn all about this celebrated Finnish innovation with over 70 years of history behind it – and perhaps it will inspire you to start something similar in your own corner of the world!
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Cover photo and photos of the items in the maternity package: Annika Söderblom © Kela
Maternity package emoji designed jointly by Kela, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and advertisement agency Hasan & Partners.