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Every Newborn In Finland Sleeps In A Cardboard Box For The Most Brilliant Reason


If you were born in Finland in the last 60 years, chances are good that your first naps were taken in a cardboard box. That box you slept in was also probably given to your parents by the government. That might sound strange, but it’s true and is all part of the Maternity Grants Act from 1937.

Today, expectant parents eagerly await the day their cardboard box arrives. Not because these parents are poor, but because this box provides an essential start to life for Finnish babies and has become an important part of their culture. But it isn’t all about the box—it is what is in the box that is most important.

Each box is given to parents—whether biological, or those who are adopting—by Kela and the Finnish Social Security system. Inside each box is everything a baby needs to get the best start in life.

Packed tightly inside is a snow suit, sleeping bag, hats, socks and booties. There are gender neutral rompers and onesies, reusable nappies, bathing supplies and towels inside the box. Also included is a picture book, teething toy, toothbrush, nail clippers, wash cloths and creams. At the bottom of the box is a soft mattress where parents can leave their baby to sleep next to their bed until he or she is ready for their crib.

For Finnish parents there is no need for a baby shower because every essential product is delivered right to their door. For parents having multiples, their package is multiplied to match. These “baby boxes” provide new parents with everything they need and include things that they might not even know they needed like a thermometer and a gentle toothbrush.

In the 1930s, Finland was a poor country and had a very high infant mortality rate of about 65 for every one thousand births. In order to change that, low income families were given access to maternity grants. This grant came in the form of a cardboard box filled with necessary baby supplies such as cloths to make clothing and diapers.

In 1949, the criteria to receive a box changed. Instead of only being provided to low income families, expectant mothers who wished to receive this gift were required to visit a doctor or municipal prenatal clinic in order to qualify. That practice continues today in order to ensure proper prenatal care for the


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