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Here’s why Kirsten Gillibrand’s “baby bundle” program is important

Here’s why Kirsten Gillibrand’s “baby bundle” program is important
[Photo: Flickr user Senate Democrats]

As part of her bid to become the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has unveiled a Family Bill of Rights, which she describes as “a set of five fundamental rights, backed up by bold policy proposals.” It’s an impressive piece of potential policy that could dramatically improve the lives of families across the United States, with ways to make it easier to start and raise a family and how the program would be paid for.

One of the items tucked into the bill should look awfully familiar to any Finnish people who happen to be reading up on the platforms of the 23 Democratic presidential candidates–baby bundles.

What are baby bundles? In Finland, the government sends new mothers a box full of diapers, baby clothes, bedding, baby bathing products, and more, serving as a maternity starter kit. The box that all the supplies are packed in can even be used as a bed. The practice helps new parents give their infants a good start in life and defrays some of the costs of raising a child.

The program has been going on for over 75 years. Originally meant for low-income families, it was expanded to all new parents in 1949 and been the same ever since. The popular program may be part of the reason that Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. That’s why Gillibrand borrowed the idea. She suggests providing “baby bundles” for new parents “so that all new families, regardless of income, can start off on the right foot with the supplies they need.”

Like in Finland, Gillibrand’s proposed bundles will be filled with useful items like “diapers, swaddle blankets, and onesies, all in a box with a small mattress that can be repurposed as a nursery bed.”

The long-running Finnish program has earned many fans; similar programs have popped up in Ohio, Alabama, New Jersey, and Texas making those early days of new parenthood slightly less stressful for people in those states.

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