Not Just Any Cardboard Box
October 30, 2015

Of any products in the Finnish Baby Box, the most frequent question we get is about the box itself. What’s the story behind the box? Can it really be used as a bed? What is it made of? How long can the baby sleep in it?

The maternity package and the cardboard box entail a long history, incorporating some subtle but important lessons learned throughout the years. In this post, we share some of these insights.


Innovations, maternity-clinics and cardboard boxes

Albeit there being loads of information on wheels and their origin, the history of joining flat surfaces to form a rectangular container, or the iconic design of a box, seem to be lost in the sands of time. That or our google-fu needs improvement. Anyways, based on our extensive Wikipedia research, it seems that the cardboard box came about in 1870’s when Scottish-born and/or Brooklynite, paper bag maker Robert Gair tried to make a seed bag but, instead, invented simultaneous cutting and creasing method that eventually enabled industrial scale box manufacturing. He should have his own national holiday.

For decades, humanity pondered what to use the newly invented cardboard box for. Until the Finnish State decided to fill a box with baby clothes and hand it out to low income mothers, that is. And so the Finnish Maternity Package was born. Below is an unboxing picture from 1948 featuring nicely dressed ladies fiddling the contents.

Unboxing in 1948
Unboxing of the 1948 Finnish maternity package. (YLE)


Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and here the maternity package plays a role. From 1949 onwards the package has been provided for expectant (or adoptive) parents given that they visit a maternity clinic during their pregnancy.

The package aids families to clothe and take care of their babies, provides a safe place for the baby to sleep and nudges the parents to participate in the pre-natal care provided free for all. Maternity clinics, by the way, are another innovation worth of a National Holiday, originating in the 1920s when they were first proposed by legendary Finnish pediatrician, Arvo Ylppö.

The maternity clinics are an unbelievably cool system, where parents can get help on subjects ranging from pregnancy and breast feeding to proper nutrition and relationship advice. They provide parenting advice to support kids as they take their first steps towards becoming software engineers, authors, primary-school teachers or Formula 1 drivers. One young father, who shall remain unnamed, was worried that hiccups his baby was having where something serious, luckily a seasoned healthcare professional from a maternity clinic was able to put him an ease over the phone.

We at Finnish Baby Box have been massive fans of the official maternity package since expecting our firstborns. Our kids wore the clothes, had their bath water temperature checked (and double checked) with the included thermometer and slept in the box beside our beds. We strongly believe that the box is the coolest thing ever and should be available to all expectant families around the world.


What’s it made of

The Finnish Baby Box is made out of virgin fiber cellulose, that is, not from recycled materials, for the same reasons that the food industry uses virgin fiber: Firstly, it ensures that no impurities or contaminants sneak in. Secondly, by using virgin fiber the box is more durable and sturdy. The source for virgin fiber is wood from Finland and around Europe.

Anton approving the manufacturing unit for Finnish Baby Boxes

Glue is an important element in production of cardboard; it holds together the three layers of fiberboard, and is used to stick the seams together. Finnish Baby Boxes only use wheat, corn or potato starch as glue, still we do not recommend eating the glue at least not without proper seasoning.

The outer surface of the Finnish Baby Box is colored with water soluble colors. From a chemical standpoint the colors do not cause any harm even if eaten. As with the glue, please do not lick the print, our designer would become very sad if the print gets smudged. Also the inside of the box is left white to ensure that clothing will not be dyed and that the baby does not get any temporary tattoos.


Great place to sleep

All of us have used the box to put our own kids to sleep snugly beside our beds, and we highly recommend it. The box is just the right size for the baby to sleep comfortably, the baby is near to make nursing easy, they can be placed back to the box without getting up from the bed and, for us tossing and turning daddies, rolling over the baby is not a risk even if we happen to inconsiderately fall asleep.

Here come the stats: The box measures 70.0 cm (27.6 inches) width x 42,8 cm (16.9 inches) in depth x 27,0 cm (10.6 inches) in height and it comes with a fitted foam mattress. The density of the mattress is 22 kg/m3 (1.4 pounds per cubic foot) and its hardness is designed for a newborn baby. Even if the mattress might feel a bit stiff at first, your baby will be comfortable in it. It is actually recommended to use a firm mattress in a separate bed but close to caregivers to aid in preventing SIDS (or crib death). Also, Finnish maternity clinics recommend that a baby should sleep on her back to lower the risk of SIDS (and NICHD, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, agrees).


When it's time to move on

We have also received a lot of questions on how long the baby can sleep in the box. This of course depends on the baby, but our rule of thumb would be that it’s time to move on from the box when the baby drums to the walls of the box so that parents are not able to sleep. Usually babies reach this level of drumming skills in around three to four months.

After the box is used as a bed there are many great things you can do with it. Our personal favorite is to keep it as a toy to play with the child as she grows up. We’ve heard that a cardboard box is the best toy in the world as it leaves so much room for imagination and it easily involves parents to play along. Another little bit less fun but more practical idea is to use the box as a toy box for children. It is also very common in Finland that after use all the content is re-packed to the box and it’s preserved for later use. If you decide to dispose the box after use, please recycle it properly.

The box carHeikki cruising around in a box car on a sunny Saturday afternoon


Hopefully this clarifies why we’re pretty confident that sleeping in cardboard boxes is the coolest thing ever. If you have any thoughts, feedback or experiences of your own, please drop us a line to


Every month one new mailing list subscriber will be the lucky winner of an Original Finnish Baby Box! Plus, if you’re on a bit of a tight schedule and can’t wait until the end of the month to order the box, worry not: If you’ve already purchased the box and luck strikes with your name, we will refund you the full price of an Original box. How neat is that!