A tradition that started in the 1930s may have helped Finland achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. The Finnish state gives expectant mothers a cardboard box that is like a starter kit for infants and consists of clothes, sheets and toys.
The maternity package given by the state can also double up as an infant's first bed as it includes a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
AdvertisementThe tradition, which began in 1938 is intended to gives all babies, regardless of their background, an equal start in life.
"Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy," Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela - the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, told the BBC News.
Panu Pulma, professor in Finnish and Nordic History at the University of Helsinki, added that the box policy also encouraged good parenting. Testimony that this is working is given in a recent report, which found that Finnish mothers are the happiest in the world.
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