“All newborns are equal”.
All newborn babies have the right to start their own lives on an equal footing; this idea was sparked by Rasuole Jasnauskiene and soon was born the idea of the “Babies Nest” initiative.
The “Baby box, baby mattress, bed sheets, garments and other items needed to satisfy the first needs of a newborn baby in Finland have been distributed free of charge to all new mothers for a long time. In Lithuania, the big achievement would be that such a box could be donated to each family in a social risk group”, the press release said.
R.Jasnauskiene says that the idea was born completely unexpectedly when her son’s family waited for the first-born. “We thought a great deal about what to give to the new baby and family. We had already heard of the Finnish Baby Box and found a way to buy and courier it to Lithuania. My son and his wife were very happy with the gift”.
Then the idea came, and the question: “Why are such boxes, baby cribs, not available in Lithuania?”- asked R. Jasnauskienė.
The first to become interested was Marijampole
Then Rasuole began to look for companies who could make a box/crib, a mattress, sheets and other items for the “Baby Nest” in Lithuania.
Having completed the design and manufacture of the “Baby’s Nest” and with the idea of donating such a box to couples who just became parents, she rushed to the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. There, however, she learned that the funds from which to buy a Baby Box are managed by each municipality in Lithuania. R. Jasnauskienė started a “hike” to all Lithuanian municipalities and soon Marijampole became interested and became the first municipality to donate the Baby’s Nest.
“I myself met with Marijampolė social workers working with mothers of such families, women, and realized that they would not be able to take the necessary measures for the birth of a baby. I am proud of the municipality’s amusing attitude: Marijampolė municipality has acquired and distributed 15 Baby’s Nest, “said Rasuole.
The widespread way of social business: one for one
The founder of the “Baby Nest” initiative, walking around Lithuania and communicating with municipalities, recalls the words of her husband saying: “Babies do not ask to be born into this world; we bring them into it, therefore, we must be responsible for them. All newborns should feel safe. All newborns should start their lives on an equal footing.”
It became the motto of her initiative. Seeing that Lithuanian municipalities are unlikely to be able to buy a baby basket for all infants who are at social risk, R. Jasnauskienė proposed to the people of Lithuania a solution to the social business already existing: “one for one”. This means that by purchasing one “Babies Nest”, another will be given to a more needy family.
The Gift Box is 320 EUR. Andzelika Jankauskienė, bought one of the first “Baby Nest” boxes, said that the box had been very useful in the first months of her baby’s life.
“We had already bought a lot – and we learned about such a box only during anti-natal lectures. We bought it when we heard about sudden infant death syndrome – before we had nothing to read or hear about it,” she remembered. – “The biggest benefit of the box I felt during the day – was carrying my baby with me to any room and he was sleeping in that box. At that time, you can also cook food, and make arrangements, and have some rest – in the first two months the box was a very good thing.”
“The idea of the box is great – we both travelled everywhere looking for what to buy. We were lost because you do not even know exactly what you need. And now, in the box you are offering, there is absolutely everything you need for new born baby. I think parents will save money and time, “said the baby’s mother.
“Perhaps grandparents will want to give the box to their children, or companies will give a box as a gift to staff that is leaving to have a child? I believe that it is an opportunity for each of us to contribute. We created a website where people can simply buy a “Babies Nest” and assign it to someone else. In order to do everything really honestly, I cooperate with the crisis centre for pregnancy and consult, for whom such a Box is most needed” said R. Jasnauskienė. The basic box for socially disadvantaged mothers costs € 75. It consists of a box itself, a mattress, a waterproof mattress protector and a regular fitted bed sheet with information about “Safe Sleep”. Currently R. Jasnauskienė, together with the head of the Crisis Pregnancy Centre, is planning a visit to Mayor of the capital Remigijus Šimašius. A woman from the centre said that a young mother needs not only emotional support, but also material – to help take care of everything that is needed for a baby: clothes and other necessary items. It’s the centre that gives these things. The author of the initiative continues to increase the content of the Baby’s Nest: she seeks to create two more overalls, trousers and summer clothes. Also, the price of the Baby Nest will be reduced as well.
The first baby box survived trouble and war
A baby can sleep up to 6 months in a strong, safe box.
“It’s strange that we offer the baby to sleep in the box, but in fact the baby must sleep on its back, without any cushions, blankets or pads. As this is known to help prevent Sudden Infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Finnish Baby Box has helped for many years to reduce SIDS. From 1930 to 2013, infant mortality rates in Finland dropped significantly to one of the lowest in the world. The highest risk period for a child – is during the first 6 months of life, “- warned R. Jasnauskienė. Also new expectant mothers often do not know how to put babies down to sleep correctly.
In Finland, 75 years ago, a proposal had been submitted to expectant mothers: a woman at 4th month of pregnancy had to visit a gynaecologist and attend preparatory ante –natal classes – only in this case would she receive a newborn Baby Box or compensation for her and her baby. So the ante-natal classes for were more abundant and parents learned what helped reduce the number of infant fatalities and how to care for their new baby. In this country the Baby Box “survived” wars and other troubles: and after the Second World War, the beginning of the baby boom, the Baby Box helped rebuild war degraded society. Finns joked that infants began life in boxes, but today very rarely do parents take the money grant instead of a Baby Box, almost 95 percent accept the Baby Box as they feel it is worth more than the money grant.
Helps to protect from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
In 2015 In Lithuania, out of 132 infant deaths, 11 were due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In 2016 of the 139 infant deaths, 5 died due to this reason. Looking at the overall statistics, the number of these deaths does not seem terrifying, but it is the deaths that can be avoided and as her husband said, “Even one baby dying from SIDS is too many!” It is necessary for future parents to know what ensures a safe baby’s sleep. R. Jasnauskienė sometimes hears criticism that there is nothing in “such” in the box that is intended to give the most to the poor, it is just a box!
“But the most important thing is that the baby should return to his home and have a safe place to sleep, in their own bed but near to Mum. The “Baby’s Nest“fulfils all the requirements for safe sleep. Baby should sleep in its own bed, room share but not bed share. Baby should sleep on its back on a firm mattress. There should be nothing in the baby’s bed that can harm it, no blankets, no pillows, no cot bumpers, and no toys. The box can be used both next to the Mums bed and carried to other rooms to be near Mum. It is possible to carry it from one place to another and the lid and mattress can be used as a baby changing mat, “says R. Jasnauskienė. The spokeswoman adds that Finns also started donating sets to all socially disadvantaged or poor families. However, having noticed how infant mortality had decreased, they decided that it would be worthwhile to congratulate all newborn families in this way. The pilot projects are already being developed in Great Britain. About 600 infant boxes were distributed to the nursing staff of the London Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital last year.
Since the beginning of this year, the Scottish Government has given a Baby Box to all new mothers. “It is a simple and proven idea to overcome deprivation, improve health and support parents,” says Scottish Prime Minister N. Sturgeon. According to her, this idea borrowed from Finland will be like “the symbol of faith for every child”.