Kela is the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, operating under the supervision of the national government. Its mission is to secure and promote the health of the entire population, and to support and provide for individuals to care for themselves. Initially set up solely as a pension scheme, its operations have expanded and diversified to cater for the varied requirements of Finland’s dependent population and now offers “cradle-to-grave” social protection and aid. the picture example maternity package or “Finnish baby box”, is a kit granted by Kela to all expectant or adoptive parents who live in Finland or are covered by the Finnish social security system.
The maternity package, or “Finnish baby box”, first issued in 1938, is offered to all newly expectant mothers to provide all newborns with an equal start in life, regardless of socio-economic background. Mothers-to-be are encouraged to inform healthcare providers about their pregnancy, thereby increasing attendance at antenatal care sessions at health centers. By making attendance compulsory in order to receive the Baby Box benefit mothers and fathers receive immediate exposure to and awareness of maternity healthcare issues and receive healthcare support. The box contains essential materials for the early stages of childcare.
Such a box, if offered worldwide, would vary in some way, depending on climate and environment, as well as culture, but may include: clothes, bath products, cloth diapers, sun hats, sun shades, swaddling blankets, nursing support accessories (shields, pumps, pads, pillows, etc.), and early-age books, as well as supportive advice on the development of the child. As in the existing example (Finland), the base of the box itself can also be designed to act as a mattress, in which newborns can sleep prior to moving to a cot or bed (research suggests that such a box may have contributed to declining levels of infant mortality in Finland, now among the lowest in the world). Notably, a box was donated to HRH the Duchess of Cambridge following the birth of her first son.
As previously mentioned, the program has also increased prenatal care provision in Finland. The simple gesture of the box, as a gift, has also reportedly helped foster a healthier, trusting relationship between mothers and the state.