Scotland will let students design its new Nordic-style “baby boxes”

Newborn gifts.
Newborn gifts.
Image: V&A Museum of Design Dundee
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Starting next year, the Scottish government will send care packages to every expecting parent in the country. These cardboard boxes, filled with clothes, bedding, books and care items, will look just as appealing as they sound because Scotland has also launched a competition to design the packaging for its National Baby Box program.

“We want these boxes to become a key part of the lives of parents and children, so the design needs to be bold and inspirational,” explained Scotland’s minister for childcare Mark McDonald at the competition’s Oct. 24 launch at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. The contest asks students to think about a customizable lid, with space for families to record key stages in their baby’s first year. It also calls for a modern graphic concept evoking “the multicultural nature of 21st century Scotland.”

The Finnish Baby Box
The Finnish Baby Box
Image: AP Photo/Lehtikuva, Roni Rekomaa

The Scottish government plans to use the winning design for at least two years. An estimated 50,000 boxes will be distributed next year alone.

Scotland’s new baby box program is directly inspired by Finland’s long standing maternity package program, which is designed to reduce infant mortality by providing a box of basic needs for all expectant parents regardless of financial status. Founded in the 1930s, the Finnish care package is believed to have contributed to the dramatic drop in infant deaths from 10% to 0.2% in the country.

Scotland’s contest is open to all of the country’s registered college and university students. The winner will receive £1,000 in cash and a studio visit with leading Scottish design idols fashion designer Holly Fulton and product designer Scott Jarvie who are on the contest’s judging panel. Aspiring designers have until Nov. 17 to submit their ideas.