Every newborn baby in Finland receives a "baby box," or a starter kit for new moms. It's a benefit that new parents have been receiving since 1949. The baby box contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products, nappies, beddings, and a small mattress -- basically everything a new mom would need in caring for her newborn. And it's all for free, as long as Finnish moms-to-be visit their doctors by their fourth month of pregnancy. Isn't that awesome?
Currently, Finland's Baby Box is unique to the world, but a lot of other countries are implementing the program by sourcing funds from non-government organizatons and private companies. Here are the baby benefits that have made us really jealous:
“Welcome To Parenthood” package Patterned after Finland’s Baby box,this is a pilot program that was implemented this year in Alberta, Canada with the help of grants, Alberta officials, and Baby Box Co., which is the first company to make baby boxes outside of Europe. Scotland is also currently working on a similar program to help alleviate poverty. Two hospitals in the U.K. are also rolling out a similar program this May.
"Baby Bonus Plus" program Not only do new parents in Singapore get a cash gift when they have a new baby, each newborn also automatically gets 4,000 Singapore dollars from the government. Credited to his or her healthcare insurance, it can be used to cover vaccinations and other expenses. Also, just this March, each new baby is given a minimum of 6,000 Singapore dollars to start a savings account.
Cash gifts and allowances Regardless of the family's income, new parents in Germany receive cash gifts (the amount depends on the number of children in the family) to offset the cost associated with having a baby. Sweden has high taxes, but they have a lot of family-friendly perks that aim to provide work-life balance. One of them is providing a monthly child allowance of 1050 Swedish Krona (about P6,000). If you have more than one child, you also get an extra family cash supplement each month, which increases further with each additional child. France also gives cash gifts to kids up until they reach the age of 20. For some countries, families with kids with special needs get a higher amount.
Midwife visits Aside from tax benefits, new moms and babies in the U.K. get midwife visits every day for 10 days after going home from the hospital. The midwife will help new parents breastfeed, change nappies, bathe the baby, among other challenging tasks for newbie parents. This is bundled with other maternity benefits a pregnant woman in the U.K. gets. Well-baby checkups Australia also has cash allowances and or tax benefits, but on top of those, nurses in government-sponsored Early Childhood Parenting Centers give free well-baby checkups. The government also helps moms reach out to other parents who have the same-age child as their support groups. In Japan, the government also gives assistance through free medical checkups for children. Home help New Zealand ups the bar a bit higher, because aside from midwife visits and well-baby checkups, the government also offersdomestic help with things like laundry, housework, cooking or childcare when you need it and especially if you gave birth to multiples, or have a domestic emergency.
Some countries do have eligibility requirements for new parents to avail of some of the benefits mentioned above. In particular, medical and tax benefits are largely dependent on the parents' income. There are now also several independent companies, such as Finland Baby Box and Baby Box Co., that partner with baby care brands to come up with a baby box that's ready to ship across the globe.
Here's hoping that our government officials in the Philippines would push for our own version of a baby box for moms-to-be!