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Rollout of baby boxes to new parents delayed as Department undertakes consultation

The Department has said work will be progressed this autumn.

Image: Shutterstock/Alena Sli

THE SUPPLY OF baby boxes to new parents across the country won’t begin until at least late 2021 as the Department of Children moves to undertake consultation on their design. 

Whilst the measure was included in the programme for government a spokesperson for the Department has confirmed the initiative has been delayed due to Covid-19. 

The ‘baby box’ will see thousands of newborns benefit through a box that can act as a cot and includes baby clothes, small toys, baby toothbrushes and books to help them through their early development.

The initiative started in the 1930s in Finland, where expectant mothers were given a box, or “starter kit”, full of clothes, sheets and toys. It has also been rolled out by the Scottish government in recent years.

Pilot schemes have also been conducted in Wexford Hospital and University Maternity Hospital Limerick

Fine Gael TD for Dublin-Rathdown Neale Richmond last year promoted baby boxes and told Newstalk’s Hard Shoulder programme that it “makes sure that everybody has the exact same start in life, regardless of supports, age or indeed social-economic background”. He noted that the boxes have been included in the programme for government.

He also called for Minister Roderic O’Gorman to lay out a “speedy baby box timeline”.

The Department has now indicated work will be progressed this autumn, beginning with scoping and planning work including consultation with parents about how best to design the project. 

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“This foundational work will inform the timing and scale of roll out,” a spokesperson said. 

O’Gorman had indicated last year that the boxes would begin to be rolled out around the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2021.

O’Gorman said a number of factors would have to be considered, such as the geographic area that the scheme is piloted, if the box should be provided pre- or post-natal and the exact contents of the box.

A researcher will also oversee focus groups and/or consultations with new and expectant parents to inform them what will be in their baby box.

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