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

(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."

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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. (Read more Finland stories.)

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