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From Finland To Texas: The Tradition Of Baby Boxes

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 13 October 2016
Finland is a fantastic place that is often seen as steps ahead of the rest when it comes to infant health care. How? Cardboard boxes. A baby box or maternity package has been bestowed upon each and every expectant mother in Finland since 1949. This box not only includes the essential items required to raise a newborn, but it also doubles up as a safe and secure sleeping environment. What does this have to do with Texas? The Lone Star State latched onto this cultural trend and has introduced the baby box concept as a means to promote healthy pregnancies and babies.


Courtesy of The Baby Box Co

Courtesy of The Baby Box Co

Finland has had one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates for a great number of years now. Many cannot help but notice that the maternity packages play a significant role in these stellar statistics. This initiative was conceived in 1938 by the government as a way to help families with a low income. By 1949, these boxed blessings were made available to all. The moral of the story is that this cardboard gesture acts as a symbol of equality. Finland believes every individual deserves the best care and same chance at life, despite socioeconomic backgrounds. Finland sent the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a baby box in honor of the birth of their first child.

The items within the boxes have seen a noticeable shift over the years due to cultural trends. For example, cloth was included in the early days for parents to make clothes, whereas nowadays, ready-made baby clothes are key items. Contents included in the package consist of the box itself (which doubles as a crib), a firm safe mattress, outdoor gear, diapers and cream, essential wash items, bodysuits, bra pads, and a teething toy. All packages also include a baby book to promote literacy and encourage parents to read to their children. These boxes aim to promote a healthy pregnancy and encourage expectant parents to receive regular prenatal care. Mothers in Finland have the option to receive cash instead, yet the vast majority opt for the boxes.

Courtesy of The Baby Box Co. 2

Courtesy of The Baby Box Co.

Now, open up your mind and hop on an imaginary plane across the pond. A group of great Texas folks has been converted by this social initiative. After being inspired by Finland’s maternity package, Dallas native Jennifer Clary and Michelle Vick co-founded The Baby Box Co. and introduced this cultural trend to America (and the rest of the world). Clary wanted to offer expectant parents the type of baby care and education that is popular in Finland. The Baby Box Co. expanded this tradition in order to save lives and benefit communities across the globe – 52 countries to be precise. Since the birth of this company, many Texan newborns are taking their first naps within the secure walls of a cardboard cot. The environmentally friendly non-toxic baby box coupled with a firm mattress is a step towards eliminating the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant fatalities.

The Baby Box Co. works in tandem with hospitals, government agencies and non-profits across America so that baby boxes can be distributed free of charge to as many families as possible. The boxes ensure a safe air flow for the baby and are also easily transportable, meaning that parents can keep babies close at all times. Additional education is also provided to parents, with the belief that a plethora of knowledge is key when raising a family.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” After analyzing painful statistics involving the number of sleep-related infant deaths, a few caring people in the city of San Antonio jumped on board Clary’s baby box wagon. And so, a pilot program was born at the University Health System to help the community with maternity packages. These Texan baby boxes include everything that their Finnish friends have, except the snowsuits naturally. The aim and hope is to lead by example and eventually provide safe and simple baby care to one and all.