Sounds like the first of many royal baby gifts have found their way to Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace! Kate Middleton and her husband, Prince William , were gifted with a Finnish baby box by Finland's Social Security Service.
The brightly colored box, a traditional package gifted to Finnish mothers since 1938, comes with a cot (with a mattress and sheets), a sleeping bag, a jump suit and assorted socks, pants, hats, bonnets and diapers for baby. For more than 75 years, Finland has gifted expectant mothers with this starter kit box by the state. Loaded with clothes, sheets, and toys, it can be used as storage — or a bed for baby. In Finnish society, it's a way of giving all children, no matter their background, an equal start at life — and though the royal baby is anything but 'equal', the gift is still a sweet sentiment. Mothers have the option of choosing the box or taking a cash grant from the state. Records show that most mothers actually perfect the box over the cash, since it's stocked with goodies for baby's first few weeks.
While the box or cash grant was originally given to low income families, the recipient list opened up to the whole country in 1949 and was made available for all children in Finland. Heidi Liesivesi, an employee of Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, said, "Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy." So the baby box was a way to get moms the gear they'd need to look after baby as well as encourage them to visit doctors for prenatal checkups before birth — and it was mighty helpful, too. During the 1930s, nearly 65 out of every 1,000 babies died. Since the invention of the baby box and increased prenatal care for women, the number of infant moralities per year has significantly decreased.
The mattress at the bottom symbolizes baby's first bed and in Finnish culture, most children actually take their first naps within the safety of the box's cardboard walls.
So, do you think that the royal family will use the box? While I'm not entirely sold on the image of the royal babe tucked tightly into a cardboard box, who knows what they'll end up using as baby's first sleeper. They might end up letting baby nap in the sleeper as an affectionate nod to the Finnish gift. A royal spokesperson for the couple said this morning that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were "delighted" by the baby box they received and that they were "very grateful" for the "thoughtful gesture" made by the Finnish government and people. Come to think of it, I am too. It's a reminder that the royal baby's birth means a hell of a lot to every other nation in the world, too, not just England.
Do you think Kate and William will get gifts from other cultures?