Put your baby to sleep in a cardboard box? A Finnish idea is winning converts in North America

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Michael Lea The Whig-Standard Postmedia Network


In Finland, all families are given baby boxes – or cash grants if they prefer – as long as the mother is receiving prenatal care. The country’s infant mortality rate decreased from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to an estimated 2.5 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016, less than half the U.S. rate of 5.8.

The program, enacted in 1937, was initially meant for low-income mothers. The Finnish government was looking for a way to better support babies and families when the child mortality rate was high and the birthrate had dropped, said Kiti Laitinen, coordinator of family benefits at Finland’s social services institution, known as Kela. The baby boxes not only provided material support but also helped connect families with health care and social services.

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