Cost of living: Free baby box is vitally important as new parents struggle to pay bills

Baby boxes are particularly important amid the cost-of-living crisis, the children’s minister has said ahead of the fifth anniversary of the scheme.

The box has been refreshed for its milestone in August and features updated clothing designs and different books, while a toothbrush has been added to support oral health early in a child’s life.

Every newborn in Scotland is entitled to a baby box, which is delivered to the mother a few weeks before their due date, and around 222,450 have been given to families since August 2017.

Children’s minister Clare Haughey saw the updated offering and met Courtney McLeod and her four-month-old daughter Addison on a visit to APS (Group) in Edinburgh, which packs and distributes the boxes.

Courtney McLeod and her four-month-old daughter Addison meet Children's minister Clare Haughey at APS (Group) Scotland in Edinburgh, with a baby box which is delivered to the mother of every new born baby a few weeks before their due date

She said: “I think providing a universal offering of a baby box to pregnant parents and to newborns is vitally important in terms of supporting Scotland’s families, particularly in the face of the current cost-of-living crisis but more importantly it helps to promote that really strong mother-infant, parent-infant interaction and it supports families and welcomes the baby to Scotland.

“As every parent knows, the costs associated with having a baby are significant. Household budgets are under increasing pressure from the rising cost of living, so it is reassuring to know that all families in Scotland, regardless of their circumstances, have access to essential items needed for the first six months of their newborn’s life.

“Uptake for the baby box has grown to about 98% since it was introduced in 2017.

“As we head towards the fifth anniversary, I am proud that the baby box continues to support newborns and their families.”

The baby box provides families with a range of essential items for the first six months of their child’s life, delivered in a sturdy cardboard box which can be used as a safe sleeping space during the early months.

The contents of the box are designed to inform and support positive parenting behaviours.

Scotland’s chief dental officer Tom Ferris said: “I am really pleased to see a toothbrush included in the baby box for the first time.

“Good oral habits are essential to achieving excellent mouth health, and this will allow us to support families in achieving this from the very beginning of life.”