The Maternity package (Finnish: äitiyspakkaus) is a kit granted by the Finnish social security institution Kela, to all expectant or adoptive parents who live in Finland or are covered by the Finnish social security system. The package contains children's clothes and other necessary items, such as nappies, bedding, cloth, gauze towels and child-care products. It was first issued in 1938 to parents with a low income, and contained a blanket, crib sheets, diapers, and fabric which parents could use to make clothing for the baby.
Since 1949 it has been given to all mothers-to-be, provided they visited a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy, and the pregnancy has lasted at least 154 days. The contents of the package are updated approximately every year.
In 1949, the box given was standard to all expectant mothers who visited a doctor before the fourth month of pregnancy per the Finnish Maternity Grants Act. A baby bottle was added to the package, but was removed in later packages to encourage breastfeeding. The requirement to visit a doctor as a prerequisite to receiving the package was done in order ensure that the woman received adequate prenatal care.
The box containing the package transforms into a crib in which many newborns have their first naps. A mother may choose to take the maternity package, or a cash grant of 140 euros, but 95% of Finnish mothers choose the box because it's worth significantly more. The maternity package can either be applied for online, on Kela's website, or by completing and returning a form.
The current package contents include bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, nappies and cream, bedding and a small mattress (allowing the box to be used as a crib), a hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, wash cloth, muslin squares, a picture book, teething toy, bra pads, and condoms.
The maternity package is not a commercial product, and therefore Kela cannot sell it. Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge received a maternity package as a gift from Kela in 2013. Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden were given one in 2012.
Content of the package in 2017
In 2017 the box contained following items:
- Snowsuit / sleeping bag 68–74 cm,
- Insulated mittens and booties
- Sleeping bag / blanket 95 x 95 cm
- Light-weight overall with hood 68–74 cm
- Wool-blend coverall 68–74 cm
- Wool cap
- Balaclava hood 62–68 cm
- College overall / jumpsuit 62–68 cm
- Romper suit 50–56 cm
- Wrap around body suit 50–56 cm
- Bodysuit with extender 62–68 cm
- Bodysuit 68–74 cm
- Bodysuit 62–68 cm
- 2* Wrap around bodysuit 50–56 cm
- 2* Leggings 62–68 cm
- 2* Leggings 68–74 cm
- 2* Footed leggings 50–56 cm
- Tights 62–68 cm
- Socks and mittens 19-21
- Socks 19-21
- Sleeping bag / nightdress 62–68 cm
- Bedding and linen
- Blanket, off-white 80 x 120 cm
- Duvet cover with pattern of baby footprints on green background 85 x 130 cm
- White sheet 90 x 150 cm
- Protector 90 x 150 cm(can be used, for instance, as protection for the mattress)
- Mattress 700 x 428 x 40 mm
- Pocket nappy and cotton gauze insert
- Towel 85 x 85 cm
- Personal care items (bra pads, nail scrissors, toothbrush, digital thermometer, talcum powder, nipple cream, condoms (6pcs), lubricant, sanitary towels, bath thermometer, hairbrush)
- Feeding bib
- Drooling bib / scarf
- First book titled "Lystileikit vauvan kanssa” in finnish and swedish
- Cuddly toy / comfort blanket
Similar programs in other countries
In July 2015, Argentina's Ministry of Health under then-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner introduced "Plan Qunita" which distributes maternity packages to parents of newborn babies. At the rollout of the program, about 144,000 Qunitas were issued.
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged to implement a similar scheme in Scotland in her party's manifesto for the 2016 election, which saw the SNP returned as a minority government. After a three-month pilot scheme in Clackmannanshire and Orkney, the Scottish "baby box" will be given to all newborn children by summer 2017.
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- "The scandal around baby crib handouts, or, 'The Qunita Plan,' explained". The Bubble. 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- "Manifesto 2016" (PDF). Scottish National Party. 2016. p. 4. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
Every new-born in Scotland will be entitled to a ‘baby box’, offering essential items for a child’s first weeks – adapting the successful Finnish model which has helped to improve lives for babies and toddlers.
- "Scottish baby box pilot scheme launched". BBC News Online. 2017-01-01. Retrieved 2017-01-01.
- CNN, Tal Trachtman Alroy. "New Jersey gives out free baby boxes". CNN. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
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- Lee, Helena (4 June 2013). "Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Tierney, Dominic (13 April 2013). "Finland's 'Baby Box': Gift from Santa Claus or Socialist Hell?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "Royal baby: William and Catherine get Finnish baby box". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- "Maternity grant". Kela. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- "Maternity package". Kela. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- "A simple cardboard box helped Finland reduce infant mortality". United Press International. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-05.