For 84 years, Finnish mothers have received a free ‘baby box’ of essentials, and it’s incredible

It is a starter kit that includes bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor equipment, child bathing products, diapers, bedding, and a small mattress.

A newborn baby usually comes with a slew of expenses, including a crib, clothes, diapers, and shoes, among other things. Recognizing the burden this places on new parents, Finland’s government ensures that all expectant mothers receive a baby box. The best part is that it is a tradition that they have followed for the past 84 years, according to BBC.

It appears to be a starter kit that includes bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, infant bathing products, diapers, bedding, and a small mattress. This box, with the mattress in the bottom, also serves as the baby’s first bed. Regardless of their social background, many young Finns take their first naps in these boxes.

Mothers are given the option of accepting the box or accepting a cash grant of 140 euros (approximately $147). According to reports, 95% of mothers choose the box because it is far more valuable than the grant amount.

According to reports, the government began the wholesome tradition of the baby box in 1938. It was a scheme that was only meant to help low-income families at the time. It was later expanded in 1949, however, as the far-reaching benefits of these boxes became clear.

“Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be, but new legislation required them to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy in order to receive the grant, or maternity box,” explained Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela, Finland’s Social Insurance Institution.

Finland was a poor country in the 1930s, and infant mortality was quite high, with 65 out of every 1000 babies dying. However, the figures improved dramatically in the decades that followed. Mike Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, believes that the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed by the national health insurance system and the central hospital network in the 1960s, contributed to this improvement.

According to the Washington Post, Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the fifth year in a row by the United Nations-sponsored World Happiness Report. Liisi Hatinen, a communications coordinator and mother of two in Espoo, a city outside of Helsinki, stated that  “everybody has access to the basics” which include guaranteed health care, tuition-free education, a living wage, and affordable housing. She continued, “These programs are well thought out and work, so that’s the basic foundation for you to be happy.”

They also have a good work-life balance. “We get five weeks’ vacation”, said Jukka Multisilta, a strategy consultant in Helsinki.

Finns also credit their country’s opportunities for women.  “I really think that the position of women is a big thing in our happiness. Have you seen our government? We have a woman prime minister. She’s [36] years old. Then we have four other main ministers who are also young women. So it’s pretty big girl power,”  said Johanna Ovaska, a middle school principal and mother of two.

It also helps that motherhood is supported by the Finnish government. A woman can take up to three years of maternity leave, and Finland provides  “free universal daycare from 8 months to the start of formal education at age seven.”