Scotland’s ‘Baby Box’ Program an Expensive, Unhelpful Stunt?

The Scottish Government standard Baby Box

The Scottish Government standard Baby Box

Following Finland’s lead, Scotland is starting a pilot program to put together baby boxes for all new mothers so that babies can get an equal start at life. This socialist project has been in Finland for more than 80 years and has been praised for reducing infant mortality rates and earning the country one of the lowest rates in the world.

The pilot program in Scotland will range three months and be delivered to expectant and adoptive mothers in the cities of Clackmannanshire and Orkney. The boxes are set to have 40 items, including a play mat, a digital thermometer, a hooded bath towel, a reusable diaper, and a baby book. The box itself will serve as the baby’s first bed, as it is lined with a mattress.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “By providing every new-born with a baby box we can help child health – and by providing greater support to new family we will also help tackle child poverty and improve the chances of some of our most deprived children.

Scotland’s pilot will begin by the summer and will help the country determine whether the program is helpful and viable. The program isn’t without its critics, however, despite how fair it is that everyone receives it. Some have shared their dislike over the poem that will be included, which is written by Scotland’s Makar, Jackie Kay, called “Welcome Wee One,” because it’s outdated and doesn’t help mothers with postpartum depression.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon doing PR for the Baby Box program

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon doing PR for the Baby Box program

Every year, the program will cost an estimated $7.5 million, giving people pause before immediately accepting the new program. One huge concern for people is that the box doesn’t include support for breastfeeding moms. Scottish Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon said, Missing basic support like [breastfeeding support] makes it look like a PR exercise rather than a good piece of public policy.”

However, First Minister Sturgeon disagrees because the contents of the box offers advice on a range of subjects and new workers will be hired to supplement that advice. Sturgeon said, 

“Alongside the material and financial support we will deliver, it is important that parents get advice when they need it – and we’ll recruit 500 new health visitors by 2018 to better-support Scotland’s families and further extend the family nurse partnership, which supports some of our youngest and most vulnerable parents.”

While the idea is sound, only usage will determine how the box will suit new mothers, which is why the pilot program will be so critical to the future of the boxes. Currently, six student finalists for a design competition are receiving feedback on their box designs before a winner is chosen. Whomever’s design wins will see their box spread around the country to new mothers from 2017 to 2019.

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