Finnish parents receive one from the government with every new child. What lessons can the U.S. learn from the country's accepted cultural tradition?
For two of my Finnish friends, Santa Claus made an early visit this year. The couple, expecting a baby in June, found a note left by the postman. Their "baby box" was ready to pick up. The Finnish government sends all parents-to-be a container of goodies to help with the baby's first year. Could this uniquely Finnish tradition encourage us to look outside the box of American parenting?
The baby box program dates back to the 1930s, and is to Finland what the seventh-inning stretch and Thanksgiving are to Americans--part of the culture. Finns can either opt for the box or a cash grant of 140 Euros ($200)--but almost every first-time mom chooses the box, which is seen as the better deal.
All parents in a given year get the exact same box. As you can see, it includes outfits in different sizes, to fit a growing baby. There are also baby nail scissors, diapers, baby books, toys, shoes, gloves, and a sleeping bag for the baby.
There's a winter suit, which is larger in size if you're due to give birth in the spring or summer so that the outfit will fit the baby during the following cold season. And trust me, in Finland the baby needs a winter suit to get through minus 20-degree temperatures, with only a few hours of sunlight a day.