Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes

Ever wondered why so many people are enamored with Finnish culture? For many young mothers it is all about a cardboard box.

The legendary Finnish baby boxes are large cardboard boxes stuffed with all manner of baby items to start young families off prepared. What’s more, the boxes themselves come complete with a fitting mattress and bedding to serve as a portable crib for the new baby.

Even before World War II, Finnish babies found their mothers nestling them snugly into cardboard boxes sent them by the government. Not only has this practice continued till today, but it’s also regarded as a much-loved custom of the state.

The practice started in the 1930s, when it was originally available only to underprivileged expectant mothers. The cardboard boxes, which hold everything from a baby mattress and sheet to onesies and a complete snowsuit, have now been offered to all Finnish citizens, provided the expectant mothers visit the doctor or state-run clinic by the four-months-pregnant mark.

The contents of the boxes are uniform throughout a year, but the following year’s boxes will reflect the suggestions of the previous year’s mothers. Through the years, the baby boxes have changed to reflect transitioning Finnish trends. Contents like disposable diapers have been replaced with cloth nappies as conservation efforts threw disposables into disfavor. Bottles have been replaced by nursing pads and lanolin cream in a recent successful effort to encourage breastfeeding.

As news of these “Finnish Baby Boxes” have spread, requests to purchase the packages have poured in from expectant mothers around the world. The boxes aren’t available for commercial purchase, but in the case of the British Royal Baby, William and Catherine were presented their very own Finnish Baby Box with compliments from the Finnish government.

As to the question the rest of the world ponders: Do Finnish mothers truly enjoy tucking their babies to sleep in cardboard boxes? For once, the teenage mantra actually fits: “Everyone’s doing it.” Thanks to the incredibly warm baby clothes tucked inside, the mothers are thrilled with their “nursery in a box,” and babies sleep blissfully through it all.