With our ever growing love and envy of Nordic countries, very few of you will have missed the BBC article on ‘Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes.’ I remember reading at the time thinking it was an awesome idea and searching to see if I could buy something similar when I was expecting Thomas.
In case you’ve somehow missed out on the news cycle, the idea is simple. In Finland, each expectant Mother is given a box by the Government. It contains all of the basics that they would need for the baby, and the box can be used as a bed. The idea is that every child is given an equal start in life – beginning in a box.
The SNP have recently created quite the stir in Scotland by introducing a pilot scheme to distribute similar boxes to parents in Scotland. Overall, the response to this seems to have been quite popular although initially I had a few reservations.
Firstly, I do wonder whether these boxes truly create equality. Even if I had been gifted such a box, the likelihood is that my kids would’ve still slept in a crib. I really enjoyed buying clothes for them (and had crazy spread sheets to work out exactly what was needed in each size!). Of course, I had the funds to do this and not everyone does.
This leads me on to my concern that it’s a bit of a waste of money. Receiving a box of goodies is undeniably a nice thing – but I wasn’t in dire need and deep down I’d rather the money was spent on other Governmental services.
Obviously, the greatest appeal of these boxes is the claim that they have helped Finland to achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. I would love Scotland to be able to have this statistic to it’s name – or indeed every country. But I do wonder if this is the result of the box or better natal care. Would funding not be better spent on actually getting enough health care visitors? Or on training midwives? Or on increasing the amount of education that prospective parents have access to?
However, although I initially was quite dismissive of the scheme… something changed my mind.
Obviously, I am not naive enough to think that there are not people living in poverty in Scotland. But I hadn’t really thought through what this would entail.
Back in January, I read an article about ‘Scotland’s only baby bank.’ Faced with closure due to the spiralling rent costs, people who had been helped by the service had come forward to share their story. Although all of them were heartbreaking there was one that really stuck with me.
Bernadette, the founder of the Baby Bank was describing the circumstances of families that they had helped. In one such case she recalled a young mother and her baby who a health visitor had called her about:
“She found the little baby sleeping in a drawer on a pillow, covered in a thin sheet,” says Bernadette.
“She came back to the unit and cried in my arms. That’s the reality in Scotland right now and it’s despicable.”
Aside from the obvious there are so many problems with this scenario.
Beginning with the fact that the Lanarkshire Baby Bank is not Scotland’s ‘only’ Baby Bank – there are others attempting to help people in similar circumstances. The Lanarkshire Baby Bank is not yet a registered charity, receives no Government funding – yet it’s the place that Health Visitors, Social Workers etc. are turning to.
It is obvious that something does need to be done.
Would the Baby Box Scheme solve the problem?
Handing out Baby Boxes would go some way to solving this issue. No baby would be without a bed. No baby would be without warm clothes to wear. Or have no toys to play with.
Granted – something still would need to be done for older children in need. Or even babies past the first few months. But it would make a real difference to people starting out with nothing.
Should it be means tested? Maybe.
Maybe the money could be used to provide for older children in need. Or the parents going without food to feed their children.
But on the flip side, giving the same to everyone sends a positive message.
It says that everyone is equal and does not take away anyone’s dignity.
I think it also sends the important message that children are important. Nothing in the box should be cheap or substandard. Every child deserves the best that we can provide as a society.
If I were a governmental adviser…
I’m slightly concerned that this post has become a rant that I wasn’t planning. But I have been thinking about what I would want to see in the Scottish Baby Box scheme.
I think the idea of having a box, with a mattress, blanket and sheets is very sensible. I know so many people who thought that Moses Basket’s were an utter waste of money. Boxes are portable and can be close to people’s beds. I am a huge fan of co-sleeping but recognise that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea! Although it’s likely I would’ve still had a cot side-carriaged on my bed, a box is much more portable and no doubt could’ve been used elsewhere in the house.
Whilst sheets and blankets are fine, I would also include a sleeping bag. There are really handy to have when the baby is a little bigger. I also would want to include a cuddly toy – every kid deserves one that will last childhood and beyond – and I’ve already written about my love of Baby Sleep Spray!
Even if it doesn’t work – at least it makes the room smell nice!
Health and Hygiene
I am delighted that Scotland has decided to include a reusable nappy in the pilate scheme. I’d be even more delighted if they included several so that people could really give them a fair go.
I also think it’s important to include the right design.
There are a huge range of nappies available one the market – but I’m a big fan of ‘all in one’ designs. These nappies just go on in exactly the same way a disposable would. There’s no pins or grips – they simple popper or velcro on and can easily be adjusted. The Tickle Tots Original also has poppers on the front to adjust the size so they are suitable for babies of different shapes and sizes. Each nappy comes with an additional bamboo booster is more absorbency is required – so are also suitable for toddlers who may be heavy wetters.
I’ve written before about how much money we have saved by using reusable nappies – in my mind it’s therefore something really sensible to encourage. Additionally, if Scotland really is sincere about environmental concerns anything that minimises landfill really has to be embraced. By giving a few to every parent, they would at least have enough to try they out and hopefully discover how great nappies like Tickle Tots really are.
As for the rest of my selection – it’s all pretty much self explanatory!
I think thermometers are one of those things that you don’t think about until you need one.
Last summer, when we were on holiday in America I had packed a thermometer that is held to the forehead. Thinking this would suffice. Faced with a situation in which Thomas was seriously ill – it wasn’t. Recording an accurate temperate was really very important.
Whilst you could say that monitoring temperates would just result in parents seeking out medical help for any little virus – I would say when in doubt – shout.
If I hadn’t known Thomas’ temperature was consistently high then the hospital wouldn’t have investigated and this could be a very different type of blog.
I know that there has been a lot of comment that the pilot scheme has not included anything to encourage breast feeding. Whilst there is a rumour that it includes a leaflet pointing people towards a website – I’m not convinced this is really enough.
That said – can any single item encourage breastfeeding? Probably not. Unless you can packed up a midwife who is there so provide ongoing support! Although a tube of lanolin nipple cream wouldn’t hurt (it also makes a good lip balm) I’m not convinced this is the medium to encourage one kind of feeding over another. After all – fed is best.
That said – encouraging Mum to keep fed is important!
No Mum – or parent – should be without a reusable cup. Although I now favour the Keep Cup – I think an insulated mug is a great present for anyone for a new born. Aside from the environmental impact, the ability to keep that much needed tea or coffee warm really is a gift!
Cheeky Chomper bibs – designed by a fab Scottish company – would also be a great addition to cope with the dribble and the teething. Plus they look super cute.
And muslins – in bright colours. If you are coping with spit up and ick then it may as well as a least be a cheering colour!
Whilst I would obviously want to include basic clothes such as vests, sleep suits, socks, a hat, and a snowsuit. There’s a few additional things that shouldn’t be missed.
Books! I utterly adore Scotland’s Book Bugs scheme and really look forward to the kids getting their wee selection. Anything that encourages reading is a plus – so they need to make it something good!
And why not include Hurrah for Gin? Whilst a bit of a tongue in cheek suggestion – it’s a great book not just for the humour but it’s realistic take on parenting. Everyone is currently given a ‘What to Expect’ type book that couldn’t be further from reality. Hurrah for Gin is fast becoming my parenting manual!
Finally – I’ve had a long standing love affair with wooden toys. A couple of those would be a great addition – and the fox is one of Thomas’ favourite teethers!
What would you include in the scheme? What’s your must have baby item? Or what do you buy for friends who are expecting? Are you for or against the scheme?
Such a lot of questions! Please do comment below or come hang out on Facebook!
* Just to note that Thomas is the Tickle Tots brand rep for Spring 2017 and we are very grateful that they gifted him a Tickle Tots Original to trial. We absolutely love their nappies and are long term supporters of people wanting to try out reusable nappies as evidenced by my many posts over the last couple of years! *