Seventy-five years ago, Finland had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. But that rate has dropped considerably over the past several decades thanks in part to a government program that supports new moms. And it all starts with a box.
In the 1930s, the Finnish government started giving pregnant and new mothers a baby box filled with many things the moms might need for their baby's first year. The box contains tons of supplies such as diapers, onesies, a sleeping bag, coats and winter gear, bath supplies, books, toys and a small mattress. The box itself even doubles as a basinet if the need arises.
The baby box is given to every new mother in Finland regardless of age or social status. Finnish moms can choose to forgo the box and receive a cash grant instead — the equivalent of about $180 — but very few moms actually do that because the items in the box are worth so much more.
So what's the catch? And how could a simple box of baby supplies help lower a nationwide infant mortality rate?
In order to get the box, women must visit their doctor for prenatal care before their fourth month of pregnancy. So not only does the maternity box supply women with necessary baby items, but it also ensures that they are checking in for prenatal care early on in their pregnancies. And experts credit both of those benefits with helping to support new moms and babies and help Finland drastically lower their infant mortality rate.
Now that's thinking outside — and inside —the box.
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