Guest Blog: Susanna Heiskanen of Tuutu Baby Box
Did you know that in Finland, expectant mothers are given a special baby box by the state - a starter kit of clothes, baby items and toys that can even be used as a bed. This beautiful tradition dates back to the 1930’s and some even believe it has helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
Today on the blog, we have the lovely Susanna Heiskanen, co-founder of Tuutu Baby Box, the first Finnish designed and Australian made Baby Box, sharing with us a little bit more background about this wonderful concept.
What is the Baby Box Concept?
The Finnish baby box has been around for over 75 years. Over 3 million boxes have been given to families by the Finnish government over the years. It was written into Finnish law in 1937 that expectant mothers were entitled to a baby box and in 1949 this was expanded to include all expectant mothers unrelated to their socio-economic circumstances.
Why has the baby box been so popular with the Finns? One of the reasons is that the box really has everything you need as a parent. Having receiving the box you would not need to buy a thing if you did not want to – the box doubles as a bed and the content is enough for the first few months and beyond. The box also promotes equality amongst parents and kids. Everyone has the same start in life and you can tell what year children were born in based on the clothes they were wearing. There are some products in the box such as muslin wraps that have been there since the beginning.
The baby box was introduced together with the Neuvola program. Neuvola is a midwife driven anti and post-natal clinic system that everyone is entitled to. It was a condition of receiving the baby box that the mother has to attend the prenatal program that educated mothers about breastfeeding, vaccination, safe sleeping practices and many more useful topics. The Neuvola system is still going strong and it reaches nearly all expectant mothers and their children under school age.
Image from Finnish Labour Museum Werstas
What are the benefits in using the baby box?
The baby box promotes safe sleep practices and the clothing and products included are all useful and something that you would have had to buy if you had not received the box from the government. The crucial early pregnancy care with free essential goods makes the box such a great preventive public health care initiative. The parents are also more likely to attend post-natal care after receiving the box and having already attended the pre-natal care.
Has the infant mortality rate dropped because of the baby box scheme?
Believe it or not, there has never been a clinical study in Finland or any other country (at the time of writing this) investigating the benefits of the baby box. The drop in the infant mortality rate in Finland is linked to better anti and post-natal care through the Neuvola system that together with the baby box has addressed some of the issues that were linked to high infant death rates. The baby box was a freebie for the parents, that in turn motivated them to attend to the anti- and post-natal care.
What about Australia?
There are already countries like Canada, USA and UK who have pilot programs to study the benefits of the baby box concept. These countries have higher infant mortality rates than Australia and it’s hoped that the baby box concept will help to address some of the underlying causes. Countries like Scotland are rolling this out as a nationwide scheme and the rest of the UK is trialling and providing baby boxes in geographical areas where the infant mortality rate is high.
At the time of writing this blog there are no large-scale study programs underway in Australia. There are few pilot programs in different States and we will follow these trials with interest. It would be a great thing to be able to provide the right start in life to all babies in Australia and we hope that the government will consider having the baby box scheme adopted here. If such a program is developed the hope is that it also has an educational part attached for the parents as it does in Finland through the Neuvola program.
Although the Finnish Baby Box comes with all the required necessities we know how confusing it is to decide what you need to buy your baby. We have taken the stress out this and offer a free checklist for parents based on the Finnish model listing the basics you need to purchase when shopping for your baby.
FIND OUT MORE about the TUUTU Baby Box range HERE and enjoy FREE SHIPPING in Australia!
TUUTU are proud to be Gold Sponsors of the 2017 Cloth Nappy Awards, run by the Australian Nappy Association, supporting their love of sustainable products such as cloth nappies that are included in the Tuutu Baby Box. Find out more about the awards here.
After more than 10 years on the corporate ladder, and two baby boys, Susanna was ready for a new challenge and starting her own business was exactly that. Susanna thought the Finnish Maternity Package that the government was giving to expectant mothers was a great idea and that it would be something she would love to endorse in Australia. “Although the infant mortality rate is low in Australia, more can be done. With this in mind we have designed an Australian version of the package and we are passionate advocates of our products and mother and baby wellbeing. We hope that Tuutu Baby Box is something you will love and it will be multifunctional for you and your child, just like the original one in Finland was meant to be.
- Susanna Heiskanen (Co-Founder)
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