Scandinavian nations are justifiably envied all over the world for their generous state-financed cradle-to-grave welfare services. Like its neighbors Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, Finland offers many essential services to its citizens free of cost. Prominent among these is the famed “Finnish Baby Box.” 
The government of Finland gives all new mothers a starter kit containing all the essential items a parent will need to take care of their newborn infant. Mothers can pick up their baby box within a few months of giving birth. Although few choose to, they can also opt for a cash grant instead.
This article will describe the contents of a Finnish Baby Box, explain its origins, and contextualize the role of the baby box within the broader Finnish welfare state.
What Comes in a Finnish Baby Box?
The baby box contains many of the basic necessities a new mother would need, including a potential bed and mattress. 
A Finnish Baby Box includes cheery gender-neutral clothing, warm outerwear, cloth nappies, infant bedding, bibs, a cuddly toy, and a book. The kit comes in a cardboard box that works as a baby’s first bed but doesn’t include baby formula and feeding bottles to promote breastfeeding.
Finland used to be a poor country with a high infant mortality rate. However, starting in the 1930s, the Finnish Government launched a series of initiatives to improve the health of Finnish mothers and infants.
The baby box was introduced in 1938 exclusively for low-income families before being extended to all mothers. Alongside better hospitals, hospital access, and improved prenatal care, it was one of the key components of a strategy that turned around Finnish health outcomes.
By providing adequate bedding materials, a mattress, and a bed for infants to sleep in, the kit encouraged parents to make their babies sleep in a separate, hygienic bed. Because they were required to pick up their baby box on a visit to the doctor’s, the move also encouraged more mothers to attend their doctor’s appointments.
Today Finnish mothers and children enjoy some of the safest living conditions of any country in the world.
The baby box includes most of the items a new parent needs to take care of their infant, including:
- A cardboard box that doubles as a bed
- A mattress, bedsheet, light and heavy blankets, and a duvet cover
- Bodysuits, trousers, caps, socks, and mittens
- A woolen overall, wool cap, non-slip socks, and a night dress
- A snowsuit, balaclava, and insulated booties and mittens
- Cloth nappies, towels, bibs, and personal care items
- A cuddling toy and a book
The contents of the baby box have evolved over the years in response to changing technology and social choices.
Nappies went from cloth to disposable and back to cloth again in response to material developments and environmental concerns. Similarly, the absence of baby formula and feeding bottles is designed by health experts to encourage more mothers to adopt the practice of breastfeeding.
The box has become a cherished icon of Finnish society, enjoyed by over three generations of Finnish women. Its bright, gender-neutral designs are constantly updated and reflect the wider values of Finnish society. As long as these values keep changing, the baby box will continue to evolve. 
Meanwhile, the Finish Baby Box continues to win admirers in countries around the world. 
Do Babies in Finland Sleep in Cardboard Boxes?
Many babies in Finland sleep in cardboard boxes because, for over 75 years, the Finnish government has given new mothers a child care package in a box that doubles as a bed. While the kit has contributed to improved infant health, some experts now recommend against infants sleeping in a box.
A lot of thought and care goes into the design of Finnish Baby Boxes, and every item included is meant to promote healthy child-rearing habits.
One of the primary reasons the boxes were designed to be used as beds was that experts wanted to encourage Finnish parents to make their infants sleep in a bed separate from the one they would be using.  This was considered more hygienic.
Crucially, it was also believed that a separate bed for infants would reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But, while the number of SIDS deaths in Finland has reduced over the years, this is now thought to be due to other reasons. 
Experts today are constantly revising their best sleeping practices recommendations for infants, and parents should always look up the latest literature to stay abreast of more recent developments. Childcare practices also vary widely based on parents’ cultures. Ultimately, no one system may fit all parents and babies.
Do Finnish Babies Receive Free Healthcare?
Finnish babies and mothers receive free or very affordable healthcare. The excellent state-financed Finnish maternal healthcare network makes Finland one of the safest countries in the world to give birth.
With the Finnish population aging, this system has come under strain in recent years.
The Government of Finland provides generous support to all its citizens by covering most of their healthcare costs. So, not only is Finland one of the safest countries in the world to give birth, but doing so there is also free or almost free.  
Other than hospital stays, the government of Finland covers most of the medical costs for new mothers. Even these are negligible by the standards of most wealthy nations. 
This support also extends beyond birth. New mothers can access free medical services for themselves and their children at the municipality of their residence. Such services cover most essential childhood vaccinations and also include provisions for children with special needs.
If parents need to visit a private hospital in the event of an emergency, the state will also reimburse them for these expenses.
Finally, the Finnish state continues to support the needs of children as they grow. Not only are Finnish schools free, but they also offer a very high quality of addition that has consistently produced some of the best test results in the world. Moreover, all Finnish children receive free nutritious meals at their schools.
Such provisions have improved the health of the Finnish people over the years and raised the quality of their human capital. Finns enjoy some of the highest standards of living in the world.
However, this system is not without its flaws. With more and more Finnish people getting older and a lower birth rate, the average age of Finns is rising. Their aging population is increasing the financial strain of supporting such a generous welfare state, and there is no assurance the measures can be maintained indefinitely.
The Finnish government gives generous support to all new mothers, including the choice of a childcare kit with all the essentials or a cash grant.