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15th Apr 2018

Ireland set to introduce baby box scheme in effort to increase birth rates

The Baby Box initiative has already been piloted in some hospitals.

Trine Jensen-Burke

The birth rates in Ireland are going down.

And in an effort to do something about this, and encourage Irish families to have more children, the Governement is now said to be developing a first-of-its-kind ‘baby boom strategy,’ with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone examining a wide range of new policies to encourage families to have more children.

According to the Sunday Independent, this new high-level taskforce, led by Minister Zappone, is set out to try to counteract the increasing economic demands posed by the country’s ageing population.

The cross-departmental group plans to unveil a series of radical new State initiatives which will reduce financial and health barriers faced by parents considering having children, one of these being the introduction of so-called ‘baby boxes’ for all new parents.

This policy, which is set to be a key part of the taskforce’s plan, will see a nationwide roll-out of baby boxes being given to families with newborn babies, and the boxes will contain all the essential items needed by parents of newborns, while the box will double up as the baby’s first crib.

The idea of these type of baby boxes was first rolled out in Finland back in the 1930s, a practise which is still used there. Scotland has since also introduced the scheme.

This is what Minister Zappone had to say:

The Early Years Strategy represents the first cross-Government approach to deliver concrete support to parents and infants,” she told the Sunday Independent.

“The baby box demonstrates to parents that we are keen to deliver very practical supports. Such schemes have been very successful in Finland and in Scotland.

“However, we will also be moving to far more wide-ranging actions. I will be leading out the strategy in cooperation with some key colleagues including the Ministers for Health and Education. We will of course be seeking to build on the progress that has already been made in childcare, for example, but also be looking at many other ways to ensure parents are well supported.”

The Baby Box initiative has already been piloted in Wexford General Hospital and University Maternity Hospital Limerick, and the starter kits for babies included babygrows, a blanket, outdoor clothing, bathing products, nappies and bedding. Educational books are also included in the package.