Hope in a Box: Lessons from Finland

This is day three in my 15-day Blog Challenge.

An equal start in life. This is a phrase I have heard used many times before. Usually it is a whisper of a wish used to gain political traction for government-funded programs offering pre-natal care to low-income women or supplemental nutrition programs like Womens, Infants, and Children (WIC).  Never before have I heard it used as beautifully and poignantly as I did when I read an article on BBC News about Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Cardboard Boxes.

Here are the contents of the Finnish Maternity box.

Here are the contents of the Finnish Maternity box.

For more than 75 years ALL mothers in Finland have been gifted with a box filled with clothes, toys, a mattress, bedding, bibs, and other newborn essentials. It is the perfect layette and every mother receives this “maternity box,” which doubles as a bed, regardless of income as long as she visits a doctor or clinic prior to her fourth month of pregnancy. According to the article, many people attribute the box with Finland’s low infant mortality rate, which happens to be one of the lowest in the world. 

I love that Finland initiated a creative solution which carries the perfect blend of simplicity and symbolism. Finland is giving its mothers more than a few material items in a box. They are instead gifting each mother with hope, support, and a sense that they will not take this leap into motherhood alone. That all babies, regardless of economic privilege, are the same. That all mothers and babies are valued and deserve a chance

I understand that a box alone may not change the United States’ embarrassingly high infant mortality rate, but shouldn’t we start with something? The 14th annual State of the World’s Mothers report, released in May 2013 by non-profit organization Save the Children, found that the United States has the highest first-day infant death rate out of all the industrialized countries in the world. Doesn’t this deserve some sort of attention? Shouldn’t our government start imagining their own creative solutions? Maybe the answer is in a box and maybe not, but shouldn’t we at least try?

I know what it is like to find yourself penniless and pregnant. I was still a poor college student when I found out I was going to become a mother. Yet, I was never without hope for my future or my unborn child’s future because I had support. I had a wonderful family who gifted me with my own “maternity box.” I was blessed to be given everything I needed without asking. I was given a lending hand and do not remember  needing to purchase diapers until my son was three months old.

This lending hand and support at a critical crossroads in my life was essential in giving me the confidence to know that I could make it and provide a good life for my child. I understood that he and I were both worthy. We were equal. Wouldn’t it be an amazing experience for every mother to feel this? For every mother to know that her child is welcomed in the same way as everyone else? That the essentials are already taken care of so she doesn’t need to fret about those first few days and weeks of her child’s life? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that every mother goes home from the hospital with more than a syringe bulb and newborn cap?

I loved reading about the Finnish maternity box and hope that people are paying attention. Sometimes the solutions to our problems aren’t really complex. Sometimes the solutions are nothing more than hope wrapped up in a box.

Photo Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22751415


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Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. Mercedes Dash says:

    I didn’t have time to read it until now- what a simple yet perfect idea! I wish we were more open to apply what other countries with such wonderful programs (and statistics) do. Is it nationalistic pride or are all politicians so out of touch with the struggles of so many entering motherhood that they don’t care or even give it any thought. Regardless, kudos to Finland!

  2. Wow, yes that statistic certainly should be a call to action for our government to make a change. I love the idea of a gift box for new mothers. I imagine that makes a positive impact on many lives.

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