Late to the party as always, I stumbled upon an article detailing a recent speech made by the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, at the SNP Conference where she announced that babies born in Scotland will be gifted “baby boxes” from New Year’s Day 2017. Like Christmas, on your birthday. Or something.
“We promised a baby box of all essential items for all newborns. It’s a policy borrowed from Finland where it’s contributed to the lowest rates of child mortality in the world,” she told delegates.
I wasn’t aware of the Finnish scheme, which has apparently been in place for expectant mums for over eighty years. It seems like a simple yet genius idea which puts all new parents on a slightly more equal footing. So, if the Scottish pilot is a success, it will be a no-brainer to roll out to the rest of dear old Blighty, right? Don’t hold your breath, unless that you live in places trying to address SIDs head on, like just down the road at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
Politics aside, the article got me thinking about what I would have liked to have seen in a baby box if they had been around back in the olden days when we were dipping our toes in, so to speak. So, here’s my (aspirational and just a little bit silly) top ten in no particular order.
1. Breastfeeding/Maternity Pillows
Or “Star Trek” pillows if you prefer. Tricky to fit into a box, but vital for propping mum-to-be up, supporting the bump, getting comfy while sleeping, and all sorts of other things during the run up. Post birth, mum can find herself in some contorted positions while feeding too, and you will need a couple to hand, ready to cram into any visible body gaps on the off-chance that a latch is ever found.
2. Babygrows and vests.
Lots of them. Preferably in shades other than white for pretty obvious reasons.
3. Washing Powder
An industrial size container should get you through week one if you’re lucky. Needed primarily as you will receive hundreds more babygrows and vests as gifts, and they’ll all be white.
4. A radio tuned to BBC Radio 4 or 5 Live
Other talk-based stations are available, but these two in particular may help during the monotony of feeding or wandering round in circles trying to get the baby to sleep in the small hours. Just avoid any programme that has members of the public phoning in as it will do your blood pressure no good. It turns out that most other idiots stay up late too, not just new parents.
We got through gallons of the stuff due to never-ending problems with trapped wind (not mine, I hasten to add.) If there’s enough room in the box with all those pillows in there, a lactation consultant would be an even better thing to include and will negate the need for Infacol. Calpol is the default cure-all when babies gets to two months. In the time up to then, a spoonful before bed will have Dad sleeping like a baby. No, not your baby. They’ll be awake.
6. A Blindfold
Obviously useful for much needed “pin the tail on the donkey” practice, but if, like me, you’re a light sleeper, you’ll wake up every time the lights go on or off at feeding time. Not recommended for Dads that also do the feeding. Luckily, I didn’t have to.
7. Sophie the Giraffe
The middle-class Guardian reading parent’s accessory of choice. Your little person will bend it, chew it, suck it, squeak it and play with it so much that you will wonder how you ever coped without one. Genius, yet expensive for what it is essentially a re-moulded rubber duck. Just don’t wash it in the washing up bowl like I did. Killing Sophie is on a par with shooting Cecil the Lion it would seem.
8. Tea bags
As if you’re not tired or busy enough anyway, the constant stream of visitors will need looking after too. Cheap tea bags will be best, as they will ensure that you only have to make one brew before you get your house back.
9. Baby wipes.
Useful for anything and everything from nappy time to cleaning the house, car or guttering. Enough said.
Keeping a baby at the optimum temperature is a skill in itself and you’ll need plenty of thin layers to get things just right. Three or four freebies to get you going will be useful. After a couple of weeks you will perfect the skill of quickly adding or removing layers depending on which health visitor is approaching your front door, to satisfy their perception of how warm your child should be. And putting it all back to how it was once they’ve left.
So, there you go. It will be interesting to see how the boxes North of the border compare come the New Year. Probably.