London hospital to give new parents “baby boxes”

Borrowed from a 1930’s Finnish idea of giving parents an “everything you need box” to support them in taking care of their new baby, a London hospital has taken to giving new parents the same treatment in Britain.

A Finnish tradition

The idea behind a box of valuables for newborn babies originally came from Finland. In the early 1900’s the mortality rate of Finnish children was staggeringly high with 65 out of 1,000 children dying soon after birth.

The boxes which contained a host of valuables were one of two options for every new mother, the other being a cash sum. 95% of mothers opted for the box as the overall worth of the contents was much more than the cash amount; boxes contained:

  • A Mattress, mattress cover, under sheet, duvet cover, blanket & quilt
  • Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
  • A hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks, mittens, a knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings
  • A Bath towel, nail scissors, hair & toothbrush, thermometer, nappy cream, washcloth
  • Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads, condoms


The new era

baby boxes to help reduce child mortality rateThe new boxes, provided by Chelsea hospital, echo the Finnish boxes, providing not only essentials for looking after a newborn but also being usable itself as a portable cot.

Championed by the Imperial College Healthcare Trust, 800 of the boxes were issued on a first come first served basis at the start of July. Should the campaign be a success we could see this rolled out further including other trusts getting involved. With the promise of more NHS funding in last week’s referendum campaigns, this could be an idea worth investing in for the UK government as new mothers would definitely appreciate the help towards starting their new life with their child.


“A great idea”

A spokesman for Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital, Karen Joash, hailed the project as empowering to parents, saying “The box is a lovely safe sleeping area, but in addition we will give all women membership to Baby Box University, which is a huge platform for educational resources. Empowering people to be able to understand how to take care of their child to the best of their ability is, I think, the greatest gift.”

Scott Rees staff were quizzed on their reactions to this rollout and many hoped that a successful campaign could see the boxes take effect nationwide. Feedback saw the boxes described as “a great idea”, “ideal for first time parents” and “invaluable in the long term”. With many seasoned mothers within our midst, the consensus is that had the boxes been available at the birth of their first child, they would have gladly taken one.

While Britain’s current infant mortality rates have recently been the lowest on record, it is never a poor decision to aim for zero. In 2014 the rate was 3.6 deaths for every 1,000 births; with a successful trial, the baby boxes could see a wider rollout that can ready even the most unprepared mother for the challenges of bringing a new life into the world.

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