In Finland, an expectant mother or adoptive parents can get this world-famous maternity box. Inside this baby box is a starter kit for newborn babies. They’re no token baby stuffs either. It’s no wonder that BBC and news outlets worldwide are making such a big deal about it.
Since I’m a “mother to be” myself, I received one from the Finnish government. And it comes at a price that cannot be beat: free. This was something I’ve been looking forward to since it became official that we’re having a baby. So did Arthur.
The maternity box, äitiyspakkaus in Finnish, is for all mothers, regardless of income or social status. A mom-to-be can also choose to get cash, 140€ tax-free, instead of the maternity box if she so desires. But this is a no-brainer since the package is way much more worth than 140€. So of course, 95% of all Finnish mothers-to-be choose the box over the cash.
So far, Finland is the only country in the world that gives these for free. Lately, many other countries have started to show interest in the maternity box. But they come at a cost to the expectant mothers. So this form of entitlement–free and/or tax free–is still unique to Finland.
Who can get the maternity box?
The maternity box is a way for the Finnish state to show that all mothers get equal support. That every baby has the right to the same start in life. This makes me, as a mother to be, feel welcome in the Finnish society. I must say it’s the best welcome gift any expectant mother could receive from her government.
To get the right to receive the maternity box, the “mother to be” has to be covered under the Finnish social security system. The reason why I’m pointing this out, is that, this is not only a privilege reserved for Finnish citizens living in Finland. Other nationalities who are lawful residents also qualify.
The expectant mother only need to show her doctor’s confirmation—that she had health check-ups during her pregnancy—for her to receive the maternity package.
Low infant mortality
The local maternity clinics, called “neuvola”, do these health check ups. These check-ups follow a schedule, from the time a woman becomes pregnant, to the time she gives birth. And these are all free, by the way.
The maternity box as a cot
At the bottom of the 70cm long cardboard box is a thin foam mattress. This way, the baby has a safe sleeping space. Much safer than if the baby slept on the parents bed (with the parents). This practice has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The maternity box educates new parents
The maternity box also has doubles as an education tools for parents. Its contents steer them in the right direction towards healthy child rearing practices.
For example, breastfeeding is strongly recommended and encouraged by the state. That’s why there is no baby feeding bottles, baby formula, or pacifier in the maternity box. Instead, you’ll find nursing pads, nipple cream, and condoms. Condoms, because taking hormonal contraceptives while still breast feeding the baby is not recommended.
Also, the entire baby winter gear you can find in the maternity box helps you dress your baby appropriately during the harsh Finnish winters.
What year was your baby born?
The contents of the maternity box change every year. New colors, new designs, and new items are introduced. This way you can see which baby was born in which year. Every generation wears the color of the year they received the maternity box. That’s why every year, expectant parents await the publication of the newest box with big excitement, us included
What’s inside the maternity box?
Have a look at the many items that fill this box. How could a 140€ cash payment pay for all these quality items? Most of them, by the way, are organic cotton, made in Finland, and designed for the Finnish climate.
(Note: The bath thermometer is missing in the photos)
I can’t wait to finally use this box as a bed for our baby girl. I have one more week of pregnancy ahead of me. Soon we can let her take day naps outside, on our balcony, in the comfort of the maternity box. It could’t get more Finnish than that.