Putting your baby to sleep in a cardboard box might sound uncaring, but for parents in Finland, it’s a tradition which dates back 75 years. They aren’t, admittedly, using just any old box otherwise destined for recycling. It’s lined with a mattress, comes with standard issue sheets – and best of all, this make-shift basinettte is free.
Until reading this article on the BBC , I’d not known about the simple cardboard box given to all Finnish parents by the Finnish Government. But now that I know of its existence, I can’t stop thinking about what a superb idea it is.
The basic concept, as detailed in the article, is that all expecting parents are sent a free box of essentials from the Government before their baby is due. They have the option of receiving a box for each child they have – but can opt for cash instead. Many don’t. Inside are items such as a small mattress, body suits, outdoor wear, bathing gear and bedding. According to the article, parents looks forward to getting their parcel, find the items invaluable, and regard it as common practice to use the box with the mattress and sheets supplied as their baby’s first bed.
I love this on so many levels. First of all, what an amazing gesture from a Government many will have paid taxes to for years. What a way to say, ‘we value your decision to become parents’. By providing essentials too, it is a symbol of acknowledgement of the needs of new parents and the demands of new babies. It is a way of saying ‘here is a little help – for you and your child’.
I believe babies themselves are great levellers, but this gift too serves to recognise all parents as equals. By giving every parent the same box, with the same items inside, the message is clear. All children are born equal. All have the same basic needs for warmth, comfort, food, and clothing. Their biggest need is, of course, love, and perhaps by sorting out the essential shopping list for parents, the Finnish Government is helping them concentrate on giving their love without distraction. Maybe.
For the parent-to-be who receives the box, I can imagine the excitement of opening up the cardboard. ‘What’s inside? How teeny are the clothes? Imagine our newborn fitting into this little box…’, these are the sentiments I can imagine the parents-to-be whispering in wonder.
Whether we like it or not, pregnancy comes with stress and difficulties. A little box like this, however, must help in taking away a few of those headaches. Here are the essentials – you’ve got all you need. You see, parents-to-be, there is no need to hunt out the most expensive bassinette or the most exclusive designer sheets. They will, after all, be used for barely four months. Instead, why not use something tried, tested, relied upon by generations, and clearly safe and suitable for a newborn? Again, forget about shopping for the best rocking bassinette stand, or the chicest sleep suit – concentrate instead on your baby.
As I said, I love the idea of the cardboard box. We might not have anything similar here in England, and we certainly didn’t in New Zealand where the Little Mister was born, but I think we can all learn from its significance. Every newborn is a gift to be loved and cherished and valued by all. For me, the cardboard box is a reminder of that.