Scottish baby box pilot scheme launched

  • Published
Baby boxesImage source, Scottish Government
Image caption,
Nicola Sturgeon met midwives, new mothers and expectant mothers at the launch of the pilot scheme

Scotland's first baby boxes are being delivered to mothers-to-be by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

All newborn children in Scotland will receive the boxes by the summer following a three-month pilot in Clackmannanshire and Orkney.

The boxes include clothing, bedding and toys and are based on a project that has been running in Finland since 1938 to give all children an equal start.

The Scottish government scheme will cost an estimated £6m per year.

The boxes contain about 40 different items including a play mat, a changing mat, a digital thermometer, a fleece jacket, several babygrows, a hooded bath towel, a reusable nappy and liners, a baby book and an organic sponge.

The box also contains cot sheets, a mattress and a blanket, making it suitable for a baby to sleep in.

It comes with a poem specially written by Scotland's Makar, Jackie Kay, called Welcome Wee One.

Image source, Scottish Government
Image caption,
The box is also suitable for babies to sleep in

Ms Sturgeon distributed some of the boxes at Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre, where she met parents and midwives.

She said: "Scotland's baby box is a strong signal of our determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life.

"It's a simple idea with a proven record in tackling deprivation, improving health and supporting parents, and I'm proud and excited that the pilot is now under way."

The Scottish government said the scheme was also intended to encourage engagement by expectant mothers with maternity and antenatal services.

Six students have reached the final of a competition run by Dundee's V&A Museum to design the baby boxes that will go into production later this year.

'Missed opportunity'

Expectant mother Joan McKinven said she was "very impressed" with the new baby box.

She said: "I think any support will be appreciated by new parents.

"There are a lot of helpful items so I think it will be well used."

Scottish Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon said the scheme "looks like a massive missed opportunity" to promote breastfeeding.

Responding to a written parliamentary question from Ms Lennon, Childcare and Early Years Minister Mark McDonald said there were currently no plans to include direct aids in the boxes to support breastfeeding.

In his reply, Mr McDonald said: "We will signpost parents to the new website so that they can access up-to-date information which will help them make the right feeding choices for their babies."

Ms Lennon said: "Labour supports the aims behind the baby box but what it actually delivers is essential.

"Missing basic support like this makes it look like a PR exercise rather than a good piece of public policy."

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