Monday, January 26, 2015

boxed baby




For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.

It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life.

The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers.

It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.

With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby's first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls.


If you'd like to read the rest of the story you can find it here, although I expect at least one person I know is already very familiar with the practice :)
Wouldn't it be nice if all new babies were given such a warm welcome? 

16 comments:

Tom said...

How fascinating, and absolutely delightful. Yes, it would indeed be nice if all new babies were given such a warm welcome. Now I wonder who that person might be who is familiar with the practice. :) She never did let on.

marja-leena said...

I wondered why my ears felt warm :-) Yes I'm familiar with the story and the practice in Finland. I don't know if I was one of those lucky babies though. I wish I could ask my mother.

Your baby in the beautiful sleeping box is adorable, Susan! It should accompany all those boxes to all the new parents and babies in Finland!

susan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the article, Tom. The idea that all children should be cherished is a worthy goal, one that would go far to change everything.

By the time I got back here our friend had revealed herself. :)

susan said...

I'm so glad you came by so soon, Marja-Leena. Naturally, when I read the story my first thought was of you. I liked the part that mentioned mothers being able to recognize babies born in the same year as their own because of the variations in the colors of the clothing. Yes, there are things I often wish I could ask my parents too.

I'm extra delighted you like the picture because I'm also quite happy with it. I was determined to draw something related to the story today and I did! S/he is very sweet. :)

Should Fish More said...

My, what eyes on the child.....better to see us with, eh? Don't look too hard, young one....
As always, love your work. And thanks, more than you know, for your messages these last couple months.
Mike

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
A lovely story to go with your art equally delightful art. Former Treasurer Peter Costello introduced a $5000 a child Baby Bonus which was axed with the change in government. Prime minster Abbott now wants to introduce a higher parental leave scheme with benefits of up to $100, 000 or 18 weeks’ pay for time off work to care for a newborn or recently adopted child, down from his previous promise of $150,000. There is bit of political obsession here with babies and continuing to work.
Best wishes

susan said...

I've always loved the fact that babies always appear to be a little unfocused. A dear friend once told me it's because the young still have one eye fixed on the eternal.

I'm very glad to see you're well enough to visit, Mike. I'm also pleased and relieved to know my messages were received in the spirit they were sent. All best wishes always.

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
Painting this one was something of a happy accident yesterday. I'm glad you like it.
Canada started a Baby Bonus program after WWII that provided a monthly sum for each child. In the years since this has been revised to payments depending on family income. While it's still a decent program and, like Australia's, still better than nothing, it's less successful than it should be because of social service cutbacks.
Best wishes

Steve Emery said...

A wonderful practice, and a beautiful watercolor to go with it! I can feel how soft the baby hair is, and I love the flowers in the background, like batik. And are those salt crystal patterns in the lower half?

Lisa Golden said...

It would be nice. I can't think of anything safer, cozier.

susan said...

Thanks, Steve, I'm glad you like it. The process for this one was very fast - lineart drawing, masked the baby (and some flower shapes), water spray followed by brushing in soft colors, sea salt sprinkles, drying time, unmasking, painted the baby, and then darkened the box with stronger versions of background colors. It was very fast work compared to most of what I get up to. I'll likely do this again :)

susan said...

Sometimes I feel like climbing into one myself.

Halle said...

Babies and boxes. First, I agree those eyes are marvellous! One eye on the eternal absolutely. I remember many times a box would be in the basement from some gift that had been assembled, and our kids would have such fun using that box as a fort, or house, or car...
While monthly payments can be important, this policy in Finland is quite different and I think in some ways more significant. And what a collection of useful items!!

Ol'Buzzard said...

In the US we only care about the children before they are born - afterwards they can eat cake.
the Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

Insofar as kids are concerned it's long been true they usually have more fun with the boxes than what was inside. A friend of mine once collected large boxes for her then five year old son who used them as homes and passages inside their apartment.

Hopefully, they also make monthly payments in Finland, but I agree there's something extra special about these welcome boxes.

susan said...

I know. It's pretty disgusting to think about, isn't it?