One Key to Finland's Healthy Infants: A Cardboard Box
Among other things, it doubles as a bed for newborns
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2013 3:22 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Finland has one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in the world, and the BBC gives a good chunk of the credit to a cardboard box and the philosophy behind it. For 75 years now, the nation has provided a box filled with clothes, toys, and all manner of baby gear to any expectant mom who wants one. But the box isn't just a container: "With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby's first bed," writes Helena Lee. "Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls."

At this point, the box is a national tradition, and its contents are no mere trinkets. Health officials carefully choose what goes inside to promote the prevailing wisdom on child-rearing. For instance, the original boxes had bottles, but they were removed years later to encourage breast-feeding. And the idea of using the box as a bed came about because officials wanted to break parents of the habit of having their newborn sleep with them. It worked. A history professor, meanwhile, goes beyond the tangibles—he loves the potent symbolism of Finnish babies from all walks of life having the same humble napping place. Click for the full story.