Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, will hand out the country’s first “baby boxes” to mark New Year’s Day.
The SNP leader, who was re-elected by a landslide in May, promised the policy for 2017 at the party’s conference in October.
The boxes are inspired by a maternity kit issued by the Finnish government to mothers as a gift. They are to be supplied to parents of all newborn babies in Scotland by the end of the year.
The first packages will be handed out by Ms Sturgeon to parents at Clackmannanshire Community Health Care Centre in Alloa today. She said the policy had a “proven record in tackling deprivation” in other countries.
The universal gift contain items such as a play mat, a changing mat, a digital thermometer, a fleece jacket, several babygrows, a hooded bath towel, a reusable nappy and liners, a baby book and an organic sponge.
The boxes are suitable for a baby to sleep in and contain cot sheets, a mattress and a blanket. A Scots dialect poem entitled “Welcome Wee One” by makar, or national poet, Jackie Kay is also included.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland’s baby box is a strong signal of our determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life.
“The box contains around 40 different essential items for new babies and for parents.
“It’s a simple idea with a proven record in tackling deprivation, improving health and supporting parents, and I’m proud and excited that the pilot is now under way.
“Being a parent is the most important but also the most difficult job there is, so it’s important that parents get as much support as possible.
“The box complements the existing services available to help babies and parents to thrive in the crucial early months.”
Ms Sturgeon first announced the policy in April, arguing the boxes 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.
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