Baby boxes will be delivered to all babies born from this summer in Scotland.
A three-month pilot started at the beginning of 2017 in Clackmannanshire and Orkney and the scheme will be rolled out across Scotland from this summer.
The baby box scheme is adapted from the Finnish model, which provides all new parents with a box full of items a newborn baby needs in the first few months of life, including bodysuits, blankets, bibs, books and towels. There are around 40 items in total.
Mark McDonald, the Scottish minister for childcare and early years said that the decision to offer the box to all babies was to ensure all babies have the same start in life.
‘We didn’t want it to be seen as a stigmatising issue. When you start to build complexities into the system such as means testing and defining who receives [the box] and who does not, you end up with people at the margins who miss out. Also you end up building in cost that, to be honest, it would probably make it just as cost-effective to make it universal anyway.’
The baby boxes will also provide resources signposting parents to various services such as breastfeeding services.
Mr McDonald says that there is a strong health visiting system that will help support mothers postnatally. The Scottish government committed to increasing the number of health visitors by 500 by 2017/18 in 2014.
The Family Nurse Partnership will also be a part of the scheme to support young mothers and vulnerable families.
Contact with healthcare professionals is encouraged; families will not be able to receive the box unless they are regularly attending midwifery appointments.
Mr McDonald also says that there will be further initiatives to improve children and young people’s health. These will include developing a new child and adolescent health and wellbeing strategy, which will cover both mental and physical health.
The outcomes of the baby box scheme will be monitored especially to determine correlation between health outcomes and the introduction of the boxes.
The contents of the box will also be under review as they have been largely modelled on the contents provided by the Finnish government.
Mr McDonald says that some of the items may not be used as much by Scottish parents, so the items will be monitored.