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

Do Moms Of Boys Have Shorter Lives?

Do Moms Of Boys Have Shorter LivesParents often quip that their kids—especially their rambunctious little boys—are “going to be the death of me,” and new research shows that they may be right: Having sons can shave an average of eight and a half months off of a mom’s life. (The affect on dads? None, apparently.)

‘Reduced post-reproductive survival’

The study, by evolutionary ecologist Dr. Samuli Helle of the University of Turku in Finland and Dr. Virpi Lummaa of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, was published this week in the journal Biology Letters. He and his team looked at the post-childbirth survival rates of 11,166 mothers and 6,360 fathers in pre-industrial Finland, using records kept by the Lutheran Church there.

“Irrespective of access to resources, mothers, but not fathers, with many sons suffered from reduced post-reproductive survival,” they wrote in the study.

After crunching the numbers, the researchers found that a mother who bore six sons would live on average another 32.4 years after the youngest son’s birth, while a mother who gave birth to girls would live approximately 33.1 years after her youngest daughter came along. The shorter life expectancy was the same regardless of the mom’s social or financial status, though Helle said that “societal and cultural reasons could also play a factor.”

‘Correlation, not cause’

Still, Helle said in a statement: “The research shows the more sons you have the lower post-reproductive survival was. Biologically, there is a bigger cost associated with having a boy than a girl, so that is one explanation for the shorter lifespan.”

Male babies are usually bigger than female babies, which may have meant that they required more nutrients from the mother’s body during gestation, researchers suggest. But modern moms with boys shouldn’t worry too much: The study shows correlation, not cause (that is, it shows a link between having sons and dying earlier, but doesn’t prove that one causes the other).

Do you think having a boy can really shorten a mother’s lifespan compared to having a girl? Tell us about your most prominent parental woes!

Source: Lylah M. Alphonse, Yahoo Shine

Image: Giggle Gab