One of the best initiatives outlined by the Scottish Government in recent years (aside from free prescriptions or the abolition of tuition fees for Scottish students) has been the provision of a baby box for every child born in Scotland. Borrowed from a similar provision in Finland, the box aims to ensure each child born in the country receives the same start in life.
The initiative was trialled at the beginning of 2017, rolling out for all babies born in the country on or after 15th August 2017. As baby M was due on 27th September, I was lucky enough to be able to sign up for one of the first baby boxes. Many people may not agree with my choice to sign up for this – it’s not compulsory – but I agree with the sentiment and the equality factor behind this. No, I may not need every single item in the box, because, yes, I can afford to buy things for my child, but the box is more than a handout or symbol of welfare. It offers every child in the country the opportunity to have the same start in life with the same items, guidance and removal of stigma for receiving any such box.
What’s in the box?
Loads of people I know are curious as to what you receive in the box, and in all honesty I’m highly impressed with everything that’s there. The basic needs of your child are met for the first few months – with clothing, somewhere to sleep, play, learning and much more.
There are various items of clothing ranging in sizes from newborn to 3-6 months. From bright bottoms to beautifully patterned sleepsuits and a fleece jacket, all events are catered for. Clothing also includes socks, mittens and a cotton hat, so your child will always be fully dressed and cosy if need be.
Whilst sleep is obviously catered to through the box itself, complete with mattress, there’s a sling/wrap inside to ensure you can carry baby around even without an expensive pram or travel system. Plus you’ll also find a travel changing mat in there for when you decide to take baby into the outside world, and there are a few handy muslins tucked in there for feeding time too.
In addition to sleep, travel and warmth, the box also contains various useful items for bathing. From a cute duck sponge to practical hooded towel, bathtime for baby can be fun. There’s also a handy thermometer to test the water temperature, and some nail files to trim baby’s nails afterwards.
Play is also an important part of the baby box, which comes complete with a play mat, highland cow comforter, teether and books. With both an interactive play book and a first story book, babies can play and learn from day one.
There are also some practical items for parents, including condoms(!), alongside things like tips for how mum can breastfeed and express, maternity pads, ideas for games to play with your child and activities to keep their wee minds stimulated. It wouldn’t be a government box without some important information too, on things like how to use the box, mental health help and information on guidance for mothers.
All things being equal
I absolutely love that the box contains the same items for every single child, with gender neutral clothing to boot. Whether you’re a young parent, first-time parent or have done it all before, your child gets the same treatment as every other, and you get the same information and support too. I know not everyone has to accept a box, and if you find that you’re in a position that you already have everything inside it, then fair enough. However I’d strongly encourage everyone eligible to sign up for one, to give each child the fair and equal start they deserve in life, regardless of class, family makeup or anything else.