Shared 1 million times and read over 10 million times, the BBC’s blog about Finland’s baby boxes has become one of the most viewed blogs in the history of the BBC website. This unusual story about a long standing national tradition has grabbed public imagination and sparked discussions across the country.
BABIES AND BOXES
For the last 150 years, parents of new-born babies in Finland have been given a padded cardboard box that acts as a Moses basket for the first few weeks of their child’s life.
These boxes are provided by the Finnish state, but can be bought online from companies such as Finnish Baby Box.
Anssi Okkonnen, a founder of Finnish Baby Box, told us:
“The Finnish Baby Box is a great starter-kit to parenthood with a selection of high quality indoor and outdoor clothes that will help clothe the baby for the first 9 months, hygiene products such as nail clippers and bath thermometer, and the baby can sleep in the box too, as it comes with fitted mattress, sheets, duvet cover and a sleeping bag. The box is a safe and cozy place for the baby to sleep and it is surprisingly convenient when placed next to the parents bed – night feeding is easy and the baby is nearby but does not share the bed.”
The reason why this story is so popular though, seems to be the quirkiness of the material. Cribs and strollers are usually made from wood or robust plastic, not cardboard!
People don’t usually associate cardboard with being a suitable storage option for babies, which is incredible given its versatility, and the fact that we use it to ship other fragile items.
Statistics show that around 90% of packages sent every year are done so in cardboard packaging. That is an incredible percentage given the variety of goods and products that are being sent.
If parents in Finland have put their trust in cardboard boxes to accommodate their sleeping infants, why haven’t we?
First of all, it’s useful to look at the properties of the material. Cardboard doesn’t splinter or smash and is getting stronger and stronger, with new processes of manufacturing making boxes more durable and crush resistant than ever before. Companies such as ourselves offer extra strong triple-walled boxes, ideal for heavy or fragile goods which can support a weight up to 500kg – not that you’d need that for a baby!
What’s more, cardboard is not only a durable material, it is flexible too. A cardboard box can easily be adjusted to suit a particular size or shape.
Secondly, being manufactured with different layers of fluting, cardboard is an excellent insulator which is sure to keep babies warm in winter.
Thirdly, from an eco-friendly and environmental perspective, cardboard is one of the most sustainable packaging materials on the market, with many boxes being manufactured from recycled cardboard. Cardboard boxes can also be reused over and over again, to store items, move goods and of course, for growing families.
Many cardboard boxes also carry the Mobius Loop, a sign that they can be recycled, while some boxes are even manufactured to be biodegradable after use. This allows companies to adhere to green policies, and once a baby is old enough, parents can easily dispose of the box.
So it seems that Finland’s baby boxes are a real alternative to plastic cribs, strollers or Moses baskets; after all warmth, comfort and protection are the ideal conditions for any sleeping baby!
MAKING IT PERSONAL
With ‘personalisation’ seemingly the latest buzz term in packaging, cardboard boxes can easily be marked and personalised. For businesses, they can become an extra form of advertising to help strengthen a company’s brand, and overprinting allows them to add their own branding or bespoke design directly onto the cardboard.
It’s a material that can easily be personalised by parents to match their baby’s personality and character. They could have their own initials, name, birth sign or favourite picture on the box.
Cardboard boxes also make an ideal ‘keep sake’ or memory box for children, allowing them to store their most cherished items.
BABY BOXES FOR BRITAIN – COULD IT WORK?
After reading the BBC article, we wondered why the baby boxes idea hasn’t yet been adopted in Britain. The benefits of cardboard are clear to see, so why shouldn’t we use it in the UK? We’ve run the numbers to see just how much it would cost the taxpayer in this country for the NHS to produce boxes for every new born baby.
Based on the most recent figures of baby births (taken from 2014), it would cost £6.5m to ‘box’ every baby in Britain. But if Finland, a country where temperatures can drop to -50°C, can trust cardboard boxes to protect their precious newborns, then there’s no reason why Britain couldn’t do the same.