The incredible history of Finnish Baby Box
The birth of Finland's Baby Box
In 1938, the Finnish government began sending low-income parents a box of supplies to ease financial burdens and give a new bundle of joy the best start in life. The box was soon sent to every new mother in the land, regardless of their income, and quickly helped the nation achieve the world's lowest infant mortality rate.
During this time, the design was tweaked so the Baby Box could also act like a baby bed, offering a comfortable mattress and sturdy cardboard walls for safety. Today, most Finns have had their first nap behind the walls of a brand-new Baby Box.
How World War Two changed the Baby Box
National Board of Antiquities
A new mother checks out her Baby Box in 1956
The contents of the Finnish Baby Box changes every few years, according to fashion and societal developments. In the 1930s and '40s, the boxes contained various fabrics for mothers to make baby clothes at home. During this time, many of these fabrics were needed for the war effort, so the government used specially designed paper for bedsheets and swaddling clothes.
But by 1957, the Finnish Baby Box became better than ever. The nation was at peace, and women's role in society changed drastically. As the idea of the traditional mother making clothes faded during wartime, Baby Boxes began featuring higher quality, colourful ready-made garments for convenience. However, the boxes still include a few pieces of fabric to this day.
The 1960's and 1970's
National Board of Antiquities
Busy Finnish women in the 1970s
In the '60s, the Finnish Baby Box was transformed to fit women's changing role in society. As entering the workforce often meant moving out of rural areas and into busy cities, many young families craved convenience, especially when raising children. As usual, the Finnish government was quick to adapt, and issued practical stretch cotton clothes, romper suits and lots of other easy clean garments. The clothes even came in new colours to fit the fashion trends of the day, and quilts were replaced with sleeping bags.
A present day Baby Box
The 1980's and 1990's
The man's role as the sole breadwinner had well and truly ended, and most families were enjoying the luxury of living in a two-income home. Families may not have needed financial support as much as previous generations, but the Baby Box remained popular. Parents of this generation were sent helpful resources with their Baby Box, like literature about child psychology and raising kids. Bodysuits were also introduced, so kids could be quickly cleaned off after long days of outdoor exploring.
The contents of today's Baby Box
- mattress cover
- duvet cover
- sleeping bag/quilt
- insulated mittens and booties
- light hooded suit and knitted overalls
- socks and mittens
- knitted hat and balaclava
- romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
- hooded bath towel
- nail scissors
- bath thermometer
- nappy cream
- cloth nappy set and muslin squares
- picture book and teething toy
- bra pads
Today, the Finnish Baby Box is as popular as ever and helps thousands of new families every year. The contents have changed drastically over the past 80 years, but the original idea of support and care remains constant.