Lottery of birth
Lottery of birth

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6.4 Pro-natalist support for parents and babies

Described image
Figure 22 Infant sleeping in a Finnish baby box that doubles as a crib.

Many countries are troubled by low birth rates and by the ‘lottery of birth’ experienced by children.

A shrinking population, an unusually high infant mortality rate or a decline in social mobility are all things that can reflect badly on a country.

Many countries have developed a range of economic, social and medical support and interventions for families at the time of childbirth. Is your country one of them? There is a huge variation in support for families around the world, from basic medical care through to cash, maternity and/or paternity leave, and free childcare.

One example, which you might have heard about via social media, is the Finnish baby boxes. Finnish mothers receive a large cardboard box from the government. It contains clothes, outdoor gear, bathing product, nappies, bedding and a mattress. The box then becomes the baby’s first crib. The boxes were introduced in the 1930s to give every Finnish baby the same start in life and to address the high infant mortality rate. Read the BBC article Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] to find out more.

Other countries have followed suit. Scotland now provides every baby born there with a box of clothes, bedding and other useful things for a newborn.

In the next section, you will consider what happens in your country.

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