Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Peanut's First Bed -- a cardboard box

Finland offers a very unique service for mothers-to-be in the form of a 'baby package' from the national social services (known as KELA). There is an option for all expecting mothers to chose a monetary grant of 140 EUR from the State intended to help them buy the basic baby neccessities OR you can select the 'baby package'. Most first time mothers opt for the baby package and its arrival is an eagerly anticipated part of pregnancy.

Packed with goodies galore....
In order to qualify for the baby package or the monetary benefit, mothers must have had a prenatal exam at their local health center, their pregnancy must have reached 154 days and they must submit the required forms to KELA. Once sent in, the wait begins.

When the notice finally arrives that your baby package is ready to be picked up at the post office there is still a few final moments of speculation - did I get last year's package or am I part of the group to get the 2005 package?! It makes all the difference when other new mothers spot you on the street.

When I picked my package up -- it was a 2004 model -- I was surprised at how large the carton actually was. Measuring about 70 cm x 45 cm it contained a mountain of baby starter gear. The contents of the box are carefully reviewed and selected by a panel of childcare professionals each year to provide baby with the bare neccessities for the early days. Since Peanut was our first baby, I was looking for guidance on what kind of clothing she would really need and was confident the baby package would enlighten us.

What we found in the box was a number of little baby outfits from pjs to a warm outerwear suit designed for Nordic winters; sample packs of diapers; baby's first nail scissors & hairbrush; blankets, sheets & a comforter; and even a few toys such as a rattle and a book of nursery songs. But, what was more unexpected were a few gifts for mom and dad: some sanitary pads and a package of condoms :-) There were also a number of booklets on breastfeeding, making your own baby food and general childcare. All in all a real treasure trove worth much more than the monetary benefit.

There has been some debate in the local paper about how unstylish the clothing is. I have to agree, it ain't very pretty stuff. Its all designed to be unisex and practical. The 2004 package had evidently chosen lime green as one of its theme colors. Some would argue - lime green - that's one of the hot spring colors this year. Yet, in the clothing it comes off as more discount store knock-off than top designer wear. The other side of the debate argues that today's generations are becoming too style conscious and should appreciate this package for its sturdy, practical items ensuring that every Finnish baby has the basics. And, fashion has nothing to do with that.

Once you make the decision to have your baby wear any of the clothing from the box - you are outwardly indicating your 'class year'. As I walk down the street and catch a glimpse of another lightblue/lime green outdoor suit on a baby, I know they are part of the 2004 alma mater.

I haven't yet decided if Peanut will wear the KELA outfits in public or its something we keep on inside the house.

... and its a bed!
And, the box itself converts into baby's first bed! At first the idea seemed really outrageous -- what, put my baby to sleep in a cardboard box??!! But, yes, it makes sense. When our little bundle came home from the hospital she was so small compared to the baby crib we had bought her - she was completely floating in the middle of giant mattress with nothing around her. We decided to put the KELA box inside her crib. Since the box comes with its own custom sized mattress, it was easy to make the sheets and blankets fit inside. Peanut has been sleeping comfortable in her box and I believe has felt more secure in the smaller space.

She's now nearly 4 weeks old and we often hear her little fists tap against the sides of the box as she changes positions and shifts from one side of the box to the other. One of her favorite sleeping positions has been to squirm her way up so that her head is solidly pushed against the top of the box. Economically, we saved money on not buying a Moses' crib or other baby-sized cot which we'd be looking at putting it away.

in a few weeks, she'll outgrow her "first bed", but until then, I'll appreciate the easy mobility of it and she'll continue to enjoy the comfy cozy space. And, they we'll use it start storing all those newborn outfits she has also outgrown.

For the 2005 package contents, see KELA's website at


ifyvic said...

hi, everyone can someone tell about child bath in finland

Peanut's Mom said...

What kind of bath do you mean?

We had an infant sized bathtub for peanut as the sinks in our house were quite small and we didn't have a bathtub in our bathroom. She outgrew the infant tub around 6 - 7 mos. It was like 20 EURs at Lastentarvike. We didn't use the stand. also bought a tiny rubber mat to put on the bottom - from Citymarket, a couple of EURs.

If you have big enough kitchen or bathroom sinks, those are good enough too. Or if you have a bathtub in your bathroom i've heard someone suggest using a laundry basket (one of the plastic ones) in the tub for your baby.

In the Netherlands the tummy tub is popular - a large bucket where baby goes in up to her neck, but is quite snug on the sides, like in mama's belly :-)