Baby boxes to be sent to all babies in Scotland from August

Scheme 'will help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents', says childcare minister

Scotland will roll-out a baby box scheme in August, Hollyrood has announced.

All babies born from the 15 August onwards will receive the box, which includes essential items such as a changing mat, babygrows and nappies.

It is hoped the scheme will tackle deprivation and promote equality, but critics have said it is a waste of public money to give the items to families that could afford them themselves.

There is some evidence the boxes, which can be used as cots, reduce infant mortality. The packages have been distributed to expectant parents in Finland for 75 years and are lauded as one reason for the Nordic country's low infant mortality rate.

Pregnant women can register to receive a box at an midwife appointment after 15 June.

The roll-out follows pilot schemes in Orkney and Clackmannanshire that began on 1 January.

Childcare minister Mark McDonald said: “I'm delighted to announce that all babies due in Scotland on or after 15 August 2017 will receive a baby box as part of the national roll-out.

"Scotland's baby box will help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents, and we're proud to introduce it in Scotland.

“It will include materials to promote the best possible outcomes for children and the box itself will also provide a safe space for babies to sleep near their parents, to promote bonding and early attachment.

“As the scheme formally begins our delivery partners will work hard to deliver as many boxes as quickly as possible to ensure new parents can start to use them straight away.

"And from January 2018, all baby boxes will be delivered at least four weeks before the baby's due date.“

The baby box scheme is part of an overhaul of the Scottish childcare system. The SNP has pledged to almost double the free provision of childcare and early years education to 30 hours a week before 2020. The party estimates this will save families more than £4,500 per child every year.

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