Nicola Sturgeon pledges Finnish-style baby box for every Scottish newborn

Written by Tom Freeman on 18 April 2016 in News

SNP leader pledges to spend £6m a year on universal baby box service based on similar idea in Finland, to tackle inequalities in health and education

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has pledged a free ‘baby box’ for every new child in Scotland if the party is elected next month.

Last week the Scottish Liberal Democrats promised to pilot the idea, while the Scottish Greens have advocated the policy in the past.

Based on a successful scheme in Finland, new parents would receive a sturdy cardboard box with clothes and nappies and a built-in mattress so it can be used as a cot. Studies have credited the idea with cutting Finnish infant mortality from 10 per cent to 0.2 per cent.


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Also included would be existing Scottish Government initiatives including a bag of books, Play Talk Read materials like a playmat and a baby toothbrush.

The universal service would tackle inequality, Sturgeon said, and cost approximately £6m a year (£100 per box).

“The baby box is such a simple idea but has been proven to have a real impact, reducing child mortality and helping families at the start of a child’s life.

“By providing every newborn with a baby box we can help child health – and by providing greater support to new families we will also help tackle child poverty and improve the chances of some of our most deprived children,” she said.

The SNP manifesto, launched on Wednesday, is also expected to include 500 more health visitors, and a £600 maternity grant to low-income mothers.

Scottish Green Alison Johnstone said initiatives to prevent childhood poverty needed bolder tax proposals.

“Greens have advocated the Finnish baby box scheme in the past but we must be sure it isn't just a promotional opportunity for commercial interests,” she added.

 

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