The First 5 Strategy was published in November of last year, followed in May of this year by the Implementation Plan for the first phase of implementation in 2019-2021.
First 5 outlines Government’s intention to pilot the development and implementation of Baby Boxes and Book Bags initiatives to support parenting with a focus on parent-baby bonding, information on baby development and early learning and promotion of baby safety.
A Baby Box is a package of items and information to assist with the transition to parenthood including safety items, baby clothes, small toys, baby toothbrushes, and books to support early development. The intention behind Baby Boxes is to welcome a new arrival to a family, acknowledging this very significant moment for parents. Baby Boxes offer the opportunity to communicate important child development and safety messages and is an early opportunity to link with parents in need of support services.
As indicated in the Implementation Plan, an oversight group will be established this year to lead the development of the pilot and scope to project to prepare for implementation and evaluation.
While resourcing has been secured through the Dormant Accounts Fund to progress the pilot, there has been no expenditure to date as this pilot has not yet begun.
The cost of providing a Baby Box will depend on the items selected for inclusion, as well as the design of the box and any logistical costs - all of which have to be determined. However, by means of international comparison, in Scotland a very well equipped baby box is costed at £160, exclusive of delivery costs. The equivalent figure in Finland is €170. There were just over 61,000 births in Ireland in 2018.
There are some baby box schemes in operation via maternity hospitals and otherwise in different parts of the country but my Department is not involved in funding or co-ordinating these.