Scotland

What do parents think of the new baby boxes?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionParents of newborn babies are starting to receive a Scandinavian-inspired baby box from the Scottish government

It has been just over a week since the first families in Scotland received a baby box. What do the parents think so far?

Baby Ashton, in Orkney where the scheme is being piloted, is among the first children in Scotland to receive a baby box. It contains 50 different items including clothes, books and nappies.

From the summer, all newborns in Scotland will be given the boxes in a move First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says is "a strong signal of our determination that every child should get the best start in life".

Ashton's parents Craig and Cheryl Moar say there is more in the box than they expected.

Image caption Parents Craig and Cheryl Moar check out the items in the box

"A sleep suit, a big winter suit, a thermometer, clothes, a changing mat, which is always handy, bath stuff," Cheryl says.

"We've used all the clothes. We haven't used the wrap. We haven't been out very much to be honest."

Cheryl says there are clothes in three age ranges to cover the first nine months of the child's life and there are other items such as teething rings and toys which will be used at a later stage.

"But all the clothes have certainly been worn," she says, "if not once then twice, and then washed and worn again."

Gary Nicolson and Charlene Nicol say there is plenty in the box they found useful.

Charlene says: "Camrynn's been quite spewy so it's been somewhere nice to set her down through the day."

The newborn's sickness has meant the cotton muslin squares have been used as well as the blankets.

Partner Gary says the water temperature monitor for the bath has also been handy.

He says: "It is actually a lot more useful than I thought it would be. The water's a lot hotter than I thought you could put them in at."

Image caption Gary and Charlene with baby Camrynn

Both couples have other children and Charlene says they already have a lot of the items which are included in the box.

She says: "I think for first-time mum's there is a lot of stuff in the box that they would need and use but this is my fourth baby so there is a lot of stuff that we don't necessarily need."

She thinks there could be a scheme for parents to return items they don't need.

In Finland, where the scheme was pioneered, they have looked to overcome this problem by offering parents an alternative in cash for additional children.

Finland has been supplying the boxes since the 1930s and it has been credited as part of the reason for a decrease in infant mortality rates.

Once the contents are all emptied out, the box itself doubles up as a cot.

But is that a use parents have taken advantage of?

Image caption Baby Ashton has not been sleeping in the baby box

For baby Ashton, the answer is no. He sleeps in a cot that his parents already had.

But it is a different story for Camrynn. She has slept in hers every day.

Mother Charlene says: "We've got fancy gadgets and fancy bouncers and stuff, but for a newborn baby they need somewhere cosy and safe to sleep and the other kids don't bother her in the box.

"They just leave her to sleep and they can have a peek and they've never been tempted to pick her up or bother her in the box."

When the scheme is rolled out to the rest of the country it is estimated it will cost about £6m a year to deliver. With just under 60,000 births in Scotland every year, this works out at about £100 per baby box.

Critics say that is a lot of money and not the best use of public funds for parents who can well afford the contents.

The first minister has defended it, saying it will ensure every child in Scotland gets an equal start.

Cheryl agrees.

She says: "A baby does not choose to be born into any background or family.

"They don't know whether they are rich or poor. You don't want your kids to go without.

"It is ultimately for the child and not for the parents so, regardless of their wealth, every child deserves it.

"No-one is being singled out for their income so I think that's really good."

Gary Nicolson says: "It's giving them a good opportunity at the start of life.

"We didn't need it, but for first-time parents I think it would be ideal.

"There were folk in the hospital and they thought they were prepared but there was still stuff they didn't have."


What is in the baby boxes?

Image caption The baby box contains 50 different items for the first year of a child's life
  • Mattress
  • Fitted cot sheets
  • Satin-edged cellular blanket
  • Mattress protector
  • Pramsuit with hood
  • All-in-one day suit
  • Romper and bodysuit set
  • Scratch mittens
  • Short-sleeved bodysuit
  • Long-sleeved bodysuit
  • Long-sleeved bodysuit with integral scratch mittens
  • Long-sleeved wraparound bodysuit
  • Footed leggings
  • Fleece jacket with hood
  • Jersey trousers
  • Baby wrap
  • Hooded bath towel
  • Real nappy and liners
  • Digital ear thermometer and replacement hygiene cover
  • Natural bath sponge
  • Bath and room baby thermometer and battery
  • Dribbler bib
  • Organic cotton muslin squares
  • Comforter/soother toy
  • PlayTalkRead playmat
  • PlayTalkRead travel changing mat
  • Baby book
  • Nursing pads

More on this story