Parents overwhelmingly positive about Scotland’s baby boxes, evaluation finds

PARENTS are overwhelmingly positive about Scotland’s baby box scheme, an evaluation has found.

An independent assessment found 97 per cent rated the quality of the box and its contents as very or fairly good.

However most parents did not use the box itself for sleeping, with some expressing discomfort with the idea.

Around 186,000 baby boxes will have been delivered to families by the scheme’s fourth anniversary on Sunday.

Uptake among expectant parents hit a record high of 98% last year.

A baby box is offered to all newborns in Scotland and provides families with a range of items for their first six months, at a cost of more than £8 million a year.

The cardboard box itself can also be used as a sleeping space during the early months of a baby’s life.  

An evaluation found 91% parents agreed that getting a baby box had saved them money on items they would otherwise have had to buy.

The digital ear thermometer and bath and room thermometer were the items most likely to be rated by parents as among the most useful.

Items identified as the least useful by parents included the condoms (20%), the bath sponge (16%), the emery boards (16%) and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra app (16%).

For midwives and health visitors, the least useful items included the reusable nappies voucher (31%), comforter toy (23%), nursing pads (21%); hooded bath towel (18%) and the leaflet on breastfeeding (17%).

The evaluation found 39% of parents had used the box for sleeping, while 61% had not. 

Parents’ reservations about this included a perception that it was ‘wrong’ to put a baby in a box.

Elsewhere, 84% of parents said they had found the leaflet on safe sleeping useful, and 60% of parents felt the inclusion of books in the baby box had encouraged them to start reading with their baby earlier – younger, first-time and lower income parents were particularly likely to say this.

Meanwhile, 66% of parents said they found the leaflet on breastfeeding useful and 68% found the leaflet on post-natal depression useful.

SNP children’s minister Clare Haughey said: “The baby box is part of our commitment to making sure that every child, no matter what their circumstances, has the best start in life. 

“I am delighted that so many parents continue to value the box, and that they and their babies are benefitting from it and its contents.

“It is encouraging to see that the positive impacts of the baby box are felt right across all families, but particularly among first-time parents, younger parents and families on lower incomes.

“This evaluation really highlights the positive impact it is having on parents and their newborns  – a fitting tribute on its fourth birthday.”

Jackie Tolland, from Parent Network Scotland, said: “As a parenting organisation, we were delighted to be part of the launch of the baby box in 2017. 

“Since then, we have heard many stories about how helpful and very much-needed the baby box has been to families. 

“We continue to promote the baby box and thank the Scottish Government for keeping parents in mind at the start of their parenting journey. We appreciate all the support.”

The evaluation was conducted by Ipsos MORI Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government between June 2019 and autumn 2020, with the majority of the fieldwork taking place before the coronavirus pandemic.

It included surveys of 2,236 parents and 870 health visitors, midwifes and family nurses, as well as interviews with 36 parents, 24 midwives, 20 health visitors and four family nurses across six case study health board areas. 

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992