More Information About Baby Boxes & Finnbin
Did you know that, since the 1940's, all expecting parents in Finland receive a free cardboard baby box intended to serve as a safe sleeping environment for their newborn and it is paid for by Finland's social security program? So, what is a baby box and why should you care?
Many in the United States often reminisce about the interesting places they slept when they were children. Some even recall having slept in a drawer or a box. There are still countries across the world that continue variations of such practices and the data supports that some of these traditions are a huge success -- in terms of being safe and affordable. New generations of parents are taking notice.
In 1938, Finland's social security system, known as Kela, started a "maternity package" program. The program provided a safe sleeping environment in the form of a cardboard baby box sleeper and some basic necessities. Originally, the program was intended to serve parents with a low income and contained some basic items such as blankets, sheets, diapers, and fabric used to make children's clothing. In 1949, the program was expanded to include all mothers-to-be. In order to earn a "maternity package", expecting mothers needed to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic prior to their fourth month of pregnancy. The program resulted in increased prenatal care for pregnant women and decreased infant mortality. The program is now considered part of the culture of Finland.
Infant Mortality in the United States
Texas A&M released a study in October of 2016 entitled: Why American infant mortality rates are so high? Some conclusions are outlined below:
The United States has a relatively high infant mortality rate compared with other developed countries: More than 23,000 American infants died in 2014, or about 6 for every 1,000 live births, putting us on par with countries like Serbia and Malaysia. Most other developed countries -- as geographically diverse as Japan, Finland, Australia and Israel -- have lower rates, closer to 2 or 3 deaths out of every 1,000.
One reason why the US has such high numbers is because "infant mortality" is defined as the death of babies under the age of one year, but some of the differences between countries can be explained by a difference in how we count. Is a baby born weighing less than a pound and after only 21 weeks' gestation actually "born?" In some countries, the answer is no, and those births would be counted as stillbirths. In the United States, on the other hand, despite these premature babies' relatively low odds of survival, they would be considered born -- thus counting toward the country's infant mortality rates.
Generally, especially compared to the worldwide statistics, American babies have good survival rates in their first few weeks of life. It is only after they reach one month of age that differences between the United States and other developed countries start to widen.
Perhaps not surprisingly, babies born to wealthier and better educated parents in the United States tended to fare about as well as infants born in European countries. On the other hand, those babies born to mothers in the United States without these advantages were more likely to die than any other group, even similarly disadvantaged populations in the other countries.
This might be due in large part to the prevalence of unintentional injuries and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among American babies. Many parents are still not following sleep recommendations to prevent SIDS. More than 20 percent of babies in the United States are still not being put on their backs -- the safest position -- to sleep.
Do baby boxes help?
A Temple University study in 2017 found that giving new moms face-to-face education about safe sleep practices — and providing them with a cardboard "baby box" where their newborns can sleep right when they get home — reduces the incidence of bed sharing, a significant risk factor for SIDS and help reduce other risky sleep habits. Their program reduced the rate of bed sharing by 25 percent in the first eight days of life; among exclusively breastfed babies, who are at higher risk of bed sharing, the study found a reduction of 50 percent.
The Founding of Finnbin
In 2016, Shawn and his wife, Jaime, were expecting their first child. Although Shawn and Jaime were preparing themselves for this life-changing event, four months into the pregnancy, they still felt overwhelmed and under-prepared.
While doing some research to get better prepared for their baby, Shawn stumbled upon an article about the baby box concept in Finland. He was instantly drawn to the idea. He ordered a baby box from Finland for him and his wife. Unpacking the box was an incredible experience with extreme emotions - so much excitement for their unborn child and relief that they were now prepared with some of the basic necessities in case the baby arrived early.
Having now gone through the overwhelming process of preparing for a child and been introduced to so many incredible products, they thought they could help others prepare by introducing them to some of the more innovative products and quality brands that expecting parents may not otherwise know about. They decided the best way to do this was through the Finnish baby box concept. Not too long after having their first child, Finnbin was also born.
Finnbin is a baby box company inspired by the Kela (Finland social security program) maternity package that grants a kit to all expectant or adoptive parents who live in Finland. While having a baby can be one of life’s greatest joys, it also brings on a new set of stresses. Our goal with Finnbin is to provide newborns with a safe sleeping environment while making life easier for new parents by helping them prepare for their baby by introducing great brands with quality products. We are excited to bring this beloved and age-old Finnish tradition to families throughout the U.S.
SHAWN BERCUSON - Shawn is an entrepreneur and startup advisor with a focus on consumer technology. He was a founding member and VP of Business Development of Groupon, the collective buying pioneer. In September 2008, Shawn joined the ThePoint.com as VP of Business Development where he was instrumental in helping transform the collective action platform, ThePoint.com, into Groupon as we know it today. Shawn holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University and lives in Park City, UT with his amazing wife, adorable daughter, and lovable dog.
CATHERINE MERRITT - Catherine has been a long-time supporter of moms and founded MUMZY, the first and only crowdfunding platform to help moms bring their ideas to life. She sold MUMZY in 2016 and was thrilled when Shawn approached her to launch Finnbin. Catherine has been featured on ABC, Yahoo!, BlogHer, Working Mother Magazine and many other outlets as a fierce champion of moms and parents, helping them navigate the unique journey of parenthood. Catherine is married to Ian and mom to Teddy and Archie. They live in Evanston, Illinois and are die-hard Cubs fans!