New arrival to the British royal family, Prince George, recently found himself the lucky recipient of one of Finland’s baby boxes, traditionally distributed to expectant Finnish mothers as a means of giving all children an equal start in life. It also gives parents quality time with their child without the initial stress of buying essential items such as clothes, nappies, baby toiletries and, it would seem, a cot. What a relief it must have been for proud parents William and Kate to discover that the box came equipped with a mattress and bedding for quick and easy box-to-cot conversion, perfect for those moments when all that hand-shaking and baby-juggling just can’t be coordinated.
The boxes were first distributed in 1938 as a means of decreasing infant mortality in Finland, which at that time was very high, yet now the country boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world – something I’m sure helps the parents sleep well at night, whether their child is in a box or not. Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel also received a box when their daughter, Estelle, was born last year, so it seems a new trend may be evolving. Just imagine all those royal toddlers stumbling about their various estates wearing Finnish baby snowsuits. No snow, no fear! At least if the child takes a tumble they’ll have plenty of padding.
It would seem that Finland is alone in such a unique provision, but the Nordic countries still come out on top when it comes to promoting an equal start in life for all newborns. In the UK, for example, new fathers are given two weeks of paternity leave, whereas in many of the Nordic countries they are given up to five months of paid leave for quality bonding time with their child in those crucial first months. Yet, it should be noted that one of the most common first words in the UK is ‘Daddy’ – so either he still manages to play an important role in his child’s life or the baby is simply wondering where he is!