Every baby born in Scotland will get a free box of useful things from 2017

The Scottish First Minister made the announcement at the close of her party’s conference in Glasgow

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Babies born in Scotland will be gifted “baby boxes” from New Year’s Day 2017, the country’s First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said Nordic-style policy, which was first announced in April, would be a “symbol of a belief in a level playing field” for all children.

Finland has been giving out care packages to all expectant mothers for 80 years. The boxes, which include around 80 items useful for babies, have been credited with cutting infant mortality and raising life chances.

Baby boxes trialled in UK

The boxes contain items such as baby clothes and nappies. Babies sometimes sleep in the boxes.

The First Minister said the first mothers living in pilot areas would start getting the boxes in January and that there would be a full roll-out in the summer.

“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’m delighted to give you an update on our plans to introduce it here. Next month we’ll launch a competition in partnership with the V&A in Dundee for the design of the box.

“The first boxes will be delivered to newborns born in pilot areas on New Year’s Day.”

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 Nicola Sturgeon announced the timescale at conference (John Linton/PA)

She joked that such a box would “beat a lump of coal” as a first-foot offering, a reference to the Scottish tradition of giving people coal to mark the New Year.

The boxes will be part of a general overhaul of free childcare provision in the country. Ms Sturgeon pledged that services would  greater flexibility for parents.

She made her comments in her closing speech to the Scottish National Party’s conference in Glasgow.

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