Finland’s Baby Box: a story of Nordic values

Imagine you or your wife or partner is 6 months pregnant. The door rings. “Here is your KELA maternity package“. Kiitos (thanks in Finnish) and you are done. All you need for your baby’s first months is there. In a box, delivered right to your house. This is why they call it the Baby Box.

It is another so-called Finnish social innovation but the story behind it is also amazing. As well as what this box represents. No wonder, the Finns are proud of being the happiest people in the world. Their babies too! Here is why.

What is this Baby Box and who gets it?

It’s a starter kit for every baby born in Finland. The box contains baby clothes and care products as well as other things necessary for the baby’s first months. The cool part is that these are delivered in a box, that can be used as a crib, using the foam mattress included in the package!

There are around 60 items in the box and their value is around 170 euros (190 US dollars). No more than that as the beneficiaries can also choose to get this maternity package as a grant in cash. All expecting or adopting parents are entitled to this box. How inclusive is that!

When did it start and why? 

Finland had been the only country in the world to provide for this Baby Box. Up until recently when Scotland also adopted this idea! For more than 80 years now, these boxes have been the country’s welcome gift to every baby born in Finland. This initiative even began before WWII as a means to combat the high mortality rate of Finnish babies at that time. Today, three Finnish dads expanded this project internationally with their own private Baby Box, that can be customized and sent to families around the world.

Why is it more than a baby starter-kit?

Because it also incorporates many Nordic values. As they say, the details are sometimes more important than the whole.
  • Social equality: every baby in Finland is entitled to this box. From richer or poorer families, married or single-mothers, Finns or foreigners. Every baby deserves to start life with the same opportunities.
  • Gender equality: colours are neutral so that the items are suitable for girls and boys alike. This way, the babies also get introduced to a non-gender-specific society, that Finland is.
  • Openness: the items are reviewed every year and there is a public tender so that any company can bid. The criteria are price and value. The selecting committee often uses the products themselves to ensure they are proper.
  • Sustainability: the items are carefully selected. They have to be safe for babies and environmentally friendly. Last year, there has been criticism that most of the items were made in so-called “sweatshops”. The 2018-19 edition took that into consideration. too.
It feels good and it feels right, to start your life with the same opportunities as anybody else, right?