Finland has the world’s lowest mortality rate among babies and pregnant women. And all because of a cardboard box! The state gives expectant families a so-called “maternity box”. The starter package for new parents contains not only countless useful gifts for the newborn, such as unisex rompers, bedding or warm outdoor clothing, the box also serves as a baby crib.

The cardboard box that can change everything for the better: That’s one way to describe the baby box, which has been given to expectant families in Finland for 85 years. The initial intention was to help mothers in need and their children get an equal start in life. Now the baby box is an integral part of Finnish culture.

A cardboard box that helped to achieve the lowest maternal and infant mortality rate

The Finnish social insurance company KELA distributes the baby box since 1937. At that time, it was reserved for socially needy women and their children. In 1949, the Finnish government decided to make the Baby Box available to all expectant mothers. The original intention was to counteract the declining birth rate and maternal mortality during pregnancies and births.

Therefore, Finland introduced a new regulation in 1949: Mothers who wanted to receive the cardboard box had to have a check-up before completing the fourth month of pregnancy. This enabled the social security system not only to provide women with the necessary utensils for their baby, but also to ensure that they were cared for by doctors during pregnancy. As a result, the mortality rate of pregnant women and babies decreased drastically. In America, 5.82 out of every 1,000 pregnant women still die in 2015; in Finland, only 1.7.

43 meaningful birth gifts from the state

Those expecting a baby can choose between the cardboard box or 140 euros in parental subsidies. 95 percent of mothers choose the cardboard box for their first child. Not just because of the emotional value, but because the contents of the box are worth way more than 140 euros.

This year’s “pop-up” crib contains 43 different items: Among them, colorful unisex rompers, a blanket with a bear motif, warm outdoor clothing consisting of overalls, warm socks and two pairs of beanies. There’s also a sleeping bag with a cute seal motif or bedding with colourful birds on it. Also gauze cloths, toys and a small toilet set with thermometer, children’s toothbrush and co. are in the cardboard box.

A paradise for families

The baby boxes are greeted with enthusiasm all over the world. France, Scotland and Ireland have distributed similar cardboard boxes. Some people offer for sale on the Internet – sometimes for horrendous sums of around 600 euros. Nevertheless, the Finnish welfare system does not want to offer the boxes for sale. They are only for Finnish families and part of the national budget.

In general, the Scandinavian countries are a paradise for families. Few nations can boast such well developed state-organized childcare and this level of gender equality. Nine weeks of parental leave at 70% of the previous salary, for example, are included for newly minted fathers. Furthermore, nobody in Finland has to worry about kindergarten and elementary school places. In Austria, on the other hand, parents become stressed about finding a suitable childcare place even before birth. If you can’t find anything suitable in Finland yourself, the state organizes it all.