Finnish baby boxes introduced in two UK hospitals

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Finnish style baby boxes have been introduced in two UK hospitals. The trials will be taking place at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London - both of which have the biggest maternity units in the UK.

The baby box tradition first started in the 1930s in Finland, but do you know what it's all about and why it's been brought to the UK? We take a look at everything you need to know about the new baby boxes.

Where did the baby boxes come from?

Expectant mothers in Finland don't need to worry about their baby's first bed. That's because they are given a baby box by the state, which not only contains supplies for the baby like bibs, nappies and bathing products, but also comes with a small mattress for the baby to sleep on.

Parents in Finland have been using the box and small mattress as the baby's first bed for decades, but the trend has been spreading to other countries in recent years, and now it's been introduced in UK hospitals.

What are the benefits of a baby box?

The pilot project will see about 800 boxes being given to women who give birth at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London in the next few months, on a first come, first served basis. The initiative is in collaboration with an American company that now sells baby boxes to parents all over the world, Baby Box Co. The boxes are a great help for expectant parents who may be overwhelmed with everything they need to get for their babies, and also a way to make sure babies have a bed to sleep in when they're taken home.

Another reason for introducing the baby boxes is to help cut the UK's infant mortality rate. Dr Karen Joash, consultant obstetrician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust, who is leading the trial at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea in East Acton, said: 'For too many years the UK has fallen behind its European counterparts when it comes to reducing infant mortality. These boxes have been proven to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland and we hope that these results could be replicated in the UK.'

The Finnish baby box is considered to be one of the main reasons behind Finland's low mortality rate, as it's suggested the baby box could prevent deaths of babies who suffocate in their parents' bed.

The country has the third lowest mortality rate in the world, after Luxembourg and Iceland, according to recent data from the World Bank. That is a much different picture from their figures in the 1930s, around when the boxes where first introduced, when 65 out of 1,000 babies died.

The fact that the box is easy to carry and allows parents to have their baby in the same room is also seen as being good for bonding.

The practical solution for parents has even had royal attention, when it was offered to Kate Middleton and Prince William before the birth of Prince George.

Kate and Wills were offered a baby box before Prince George's birth

Where can I get a baby box from?

Apart from the two hospitals taking part in the trial, baby boxes are also available to be purchased from several businesses that were created in recent years.

For instance, Baby Box Co's cheaper option, The Bed Box, which is meant to primarily be a bed and includes a fitted mattress, a waterproof cover, 100% cotton sheet, a swag bag with bonus coupons and samples, and a membership to Baby Box University, costs £49.07. Other options can go up to around £150, and include more products like a thermometer and an organic wooden teether.

Image: Baby Box Co
The Bed box is Baby Box Co's cheaper option, for £49.07

Since the scheme started in 1938, the boxes and contents have changed with the times. The latest change in 2006 brought back cloth nappies and left out bottles to encourage breastfeeding.

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