August 18, 2016
Written by Eli Rosenberg
This post originally appeared in The New York Times.
At a glance, it seems a strange place to put a newborn: a bit of bedding and a miniature sleeping bag arranged in a cardboard box.
Even so, that’s the first place that many Finnish infants lay their little heads. And the simple setup is believed to be one reason that Finland now has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world — 2.52 for every 1,000 births, less than half that of the United States.
Finland provides all mothers-to-be with a baby box, but there’s a string attached. To receive it, the mother has to undergo a medical exam during the first four months of pregnancy.
Each year the government gives away about 40,000 of the boxes, which come with bedding and about 50 other baby items, including clothes, socks, a warm coat and even a baby balaclava for the icy Nordic winter. (Mothers who don’t need all those items can choose to get 140 euros instead, or about $155.)