Finnish baby boxes

finnish-baby-box

In 2013, BBC Magazine ran an article about the Finnish Baby Box: a box containing loads of useful stuff that every expectant parent is given. The idea became popular all over the world. When the royals popped their sprog out, the Finnish government even sent them a box.

In a new article by BBC Magazine, published earlier this month, they discuss various start-up companies that have attempted to replicate the concept as a business for the rest of the world.

Finnish Baby Box seems to do quite a good job of it. For £320 you get a range of 50 different items, similar to the actual box contents. Of course, there is a Moomin edition too, that clocks in at £480.

Elsewhere however, people seem to have done an excellent job of entirely missing the point. Both British Baby Box and the US-based Baby Box Co sell boxes with almost nothing in them.

From their marketing, you might be mislead into thinking that buying a cardboard box and having your baby sleep in it somehow reduced infant mortality. There is no evidence for this. It’s true that Finland does have one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. Almost half that of the UK. However, the success of their system is down to three things:

  1. When you have a baby in Finland, you go to special baby centres. Here you have all of our antenatal and postnatal care until the child starts school. It’s all in one place, making it easy to access care services.
  2. You have to go to all the antenatal services to get the box. So everyone does, even if they only want the box.
  3. The box is full of useful stuff like a mattress, baby clothes, blanket, toiletries and most other stuff you need to care for a new born.

The fact that it all comes in a cardboard box is almost irrelevant. That is not to say that some Finnish parents do not use it as the baby’s first bed. Some do. Many just use it to store baby’s things in however. Which makes total sense because, when you think about it, why would sleeping in a cardboard box be beneficial for your baby?

If people want to sell their own version of the baby box, they are free to do so. However, it is misleading to suggest that there is any evidence that the box is beneficial. Finland’s success comes from their wide adoption of their antenatal care system and high quality products given to new parents, not some kind of magical effect of sleeping in a cardboard box.

Chatting with Baby Box Co

Since publishing this article, I have spoken with Jennifer Clary, CEO of Baby Box Co. You can read more about the interview here.

BBC on baby box effectiveness

In March 2017, the BBC published another follow-up article entitled “Do baby boxes really save lives?”, raising the same questions that I discussed in this post. It includes Emily Oster, who is the author of a book I highly recommend, Expecting Better. You can read the BBC article here.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 11th, 2016 at 10:33 am and is filed under Family & Parenting, Health & Wellbeing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.