Would you let your baby sleep in a box?
Having a newborn can be daunting. What do you need to buy? How will you get the baby to sleep? And how will you pay for everything? Could the answers to these worries lie in a 'baby box'?
The baby box has taken the world by storm, but what is it? Well, it originated in Finland in the 1930s as a kind of maternity kit for expectant parents. The box, provided by the government, contains supplies, such as bibs, nappies, and teething toys. It also comes with a small mattress, which is placed in the bottom of the box to create the baby's first cot. Now, the idea of putting a child to sleep in a box may shock some. But, experts say this could reduce the risks that come with babies sleeping in the same bed as their parents. The box has been a huge success and is said to be one of the main reasons why the rate of infant mortality in Finland is so low.
A few years ago, stories of the Finnish baby box went viral. Other countries around the world have since caught onto the idea and adapted it to suit local needs. For example, in South Africa, the box is made of plastic and can be used as a bath rather than a bed. The main objective, however, is to encourage mothers to attend antenatal classes during their pregnancy. The version trialled in India includes other appropriate supplies, such as a mosquito net to protect babies from malaria.
In Canada, additions to the baby box include a "crib-side assistance booklet" to help fathers bond with their baby. Written in the style of a car-repair manual, the booklet offers first-time dads helpful advice on matters such as how to burp their child.
Of course, the baby box can only do so much. Many believe governments should focus on providing parents with adequate maternityand paternity leave and improving health care and education. Good things come in small packages though, and for such a simple idea the baby box really does tick a lot of boxes!