Finnish Babies Sleep In Cardboard Boxes

Finnish Babies Sleep In Cardboard BoxesFor 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.

‘Equal start in life’

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life. The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers. It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.

With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls. Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more.


‘Rite of passage’

The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.

“Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,” says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland’s nascent welfare state. At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women.

What do you think of Finland’s cardboard box tradition for babies? Would you let your baby sleep in one?

Source: Helena Lee, BBC News

Image: Facebook

The Effect Of Gender-Stereotyping Our Kids

The Effect Of Gender-Stereotyping Our KidsA few years ago at my son’s preschool camp award ceremony, I sat silently as well-meaning counselors called each child forward. Girls: best hair, best clothes, best friend, best helper and best artist. Boys: best runner, best climber, best builder and best thrower. My son won best soccer player. In general, girls received awards for their personalities and appearance and boys for their actions and physical attributes.

‘Shape their interactions’

The gender disparity was subtle but present. And then my daughter got her certificate, showing her in a funky orange sweater, tight pants, and holding a bowling ball. Her award — best dressed.

Sometimes, I find the prospect of raising a girl to be terrifying. The forces of patriarchy conspire to render girls weak, subordinate and sexually objectified. When we respond to infants by gendering our speech, strong for boys and lilting for girls, we immediately start to shape their interactions with the world.


‘Closeted and coddled’

The teenage years with the new dangers of sex, alcohol, eating disorders and more will arrive before we know it. I can’t save her from all of this, and anyway we buy into purity culture (the notion that only a father’s constant surveillance can save our daughters) at our peril and the peril of our daughters. Our daughters need to be strong, not closeted and coddled. We have to arm them with the tools to question, resist and change our patriarchal culture.

Our culture constantly projects the message that only appearances matter, and this message is aimed squarely at our children. We can fight this only by working against the grain, resisting gendered language and emphasizing the internal over the external.

Are you also guilty of gender-stereotyping your kids? Do you agree or disagree with this write-up?

Source: David M. Perry, CNN

Image: NY Metro Parents