Baby in a Box; The Sharenting Debate; and a Victory For ChildcareTuesday 11th of June 2013 | Category: Baby News | Written by: Leoarna Mathias
Upon reading this article, I have come to the conclusion that Finland might just be a really great place to live, if you're a new parent. Since 1938 the Finnish government have been sending out boxes of useful goodies to new parents, and a tradition of using the box as a child's first crib has grown up with it. It seems that the box is universally well-received across Finland, and that it has actually been part of a package of measures that have brought down the country's rate of infant mortality during the 20th century. The article goes on to say that,
"At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women."
Now, something tells me that this isn't quite how British mothers feel about the Bounty pack. For those of you not yet in the know, the Bounty pack is given to all new parents while they are in hospital, and contains a selection of free samples of baby products, vouchers, and special offers. In some areas they also offer in-hospital photo sessions. Established in 1959, it has grown into an enormous operation that claims 3 million members (you can join an online club using details from the pack) and 95% coverage of the 750,000 annual births in the UK every year. In recent years the scheme has come in for some serious criticism, notably that its agents employ aggressive sales techniques when endeavouring to get new mums to sign up to photo sessions within hours of baby's arrival, and confuse tired and emotional post-labour mothers with an overwhelming amount of information about child benefit, insurance and the like. For others, the fact that a commercial organisation is allowed to operate so openly within the walls of the NHS feels highly inappropriate. The bottom line is that Hospital Trusts get money for every Bounty pack that they allow to be distributed on their premises, but perhaps, given the strength of feeling expressed so well in this blog from Analytical Armadillo, we should be pushing for an alternative more akin to the Finnish scheme.
Do You "Sharent"?
Just last month The Guardian published a fascinating piece about how the children now being born in this country might be the first to live out their entire lives with an online presence, given the proliferation and popularity of parent's sharing images and anecdotes about their children's lives from the moment they are born. A few bloggers have gone on to examine their own behaviour in the light of this. Generally, bloggers come out in favour of it - and perhaps that isn't so surprising given the reasons why most parent bloggers begin blogging in the first place. Mumsnetters have been mulling to the topic over too via their forum. I conducted a quick poll amongst my friends in advance of writing this post, and as you'd expect, a range of views came back. Most were happy with the exposure their children got via facebook and instagram, and just a few took the view that it was the thin end of a wedge and best avoided. For myself, I haven't yet managed to unravel whether I think there is any kind of relationship between the cute baby pictures that fill my facebook timeline, and the more sinister images that are perused by those who ultimately go on to commit crimes against children (witness the debates about Mark Bridger's use of online child pornography during his trial for the murder of April Jones). We'd be interested to know what you think about sharenting - you can share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Childcare Changes - Shelved
And finally this week, you find me doing a little victory dance in my home office. The reason? Nick Clegg announced that the Department for Education's plans to increase the numbers of children childcare professionals are allowed to care for have been shelved. For six months, early years practitioners and academics have been united in the fight against changes in the ratios, motivated by their genuine concern for the quality of care they could offer to the UK's youngest children. In a statement from the Deputy Prime Minister's office, Mr Clegg said:
"When you are talking about something this important to parents, I think it is imperative to be led by the evidence - which is overwhelmingly against changing the rules on ratios. The argument that this will help families with their weekly childcare bill simply does not stack up. The proposals to increase ratios were put out to consultation and were roundly criticised by parents, providers and experts alike. Most importantly, there is no real evidence that increasing ratios will reduce the cost of childcare for families."
Here on Babies.co.uk we have followed this story from its inception, and we've also given you some sterling advice on finding good quality day care for your own child. It was reassuring that in the end, parents lobbied their MPs and signed online petitions in their thousands to fight these changes. Then again, why wouldn't they - there's no doubting that parents here in the UK do a great deal to make sure their children are safe and well, whether they can be with them all day, or not.