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For more than 80 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a Baby Box by the state that serves as a starter kit for their new baby. It contains clothes and other newborn necessities, and the Baby Box itself--which is lined with a mattress--is used as the child's first bed.
The Baby Box program has helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. The initiative, which enables every expecting woman in the country to claim a free Baby Box once she receives prenatal care and parenting information from a healthcare professional, is credited with helping to decrease Finland’s infant mortality rate from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to 3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013.
The tradition dates back to 1938. In the 1930s, Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high, but the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.
The contents of the Baby Box have changed a good deal over the years, reflecting changing times. During the '30s and '40s, it contained fabric because mothers were accustomed to making the baby's clothes, but the fabric was replaced by ready-made clothes in the '50s.
It has become an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women and contributing to Finland's ranking as one of the best countries in the world for mothers to live.