Last week, Natasha Earle, from the Birth Baby Beyond charity in Glasgow revealed she has been swamped with unused boxes.
The scheme started in August 2017 and since then over 50,000 boxes have been given out at a cost of £8 million. Each contains a selection of clothes, a bath towel, a travel changing mat, bibs, books and a digital thermometer. The box can also be used as the baby’s first bed.
In Dumfries and Galloway, over 1200 boxes have now been distributed but mums in this area have mixed views. Amie Forster from Dumfries said: “Hubby thought it was a waste of taxpayers’ money, but we really did use the majority of the contents and still do. I’m now going to use it as a memory box.
“Perhaps a scheme where any unwanted boxes/items are given to charities for families/women’s aid in other countries would prevent local charity shops being filled.” Jennifer Hilary started a discussion on the Facebook page Mum2Mum Friends Dumfries and Galloway and said: “I loved my baby box but must admit I gave quite a lot of things to a local charity shop as I had already bought much of the contents myself. “The box itself is now being used as a toy box – never been used as a bed.” And Debra Davidson said: “I think it would be a better idea if you want to opt in to choose what you would like from the scheme. “I wouldn’t have minded paying for just the box and mattress like they charge in England, but I also don’t have a problem with this sort of thing being issued for free to the poorest families who genuinely need all of the items.” However, Lochmaben’s Pamela Lorimer is against the boxes and said: “Complete waste of taxpayers’ money. It could be used so much more wisely for services that would be really helpful to many.”
Michelle Armstrong, of Dumfries, added: “I think it should only be for the poorest families, not for everyone to get. I won’t be getting one cause I had kept everything from the last baby I had.”
Defending the scheme, South Scotland MSP Emma Harper said: “The baby box has been a huge success right across the country and gives every baby born in Scotland an equal start in life. “The Royal College of Midwives and non-SNP politicians in both the UK Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have backed the introduction of a similar scheme across the whole of the UK, so it shows baby boxes have been a popular idea.” She added: “Not every parent will use the box as a bed for their baby, and once the child has outgrown the need for the box and its contents then it is inevitable that some will find their way into local charity shops to be used by other parents. It is important to point out that while baby boxes are available to everyone, no one will receive one unless they register for it so parents don’t need to get one if they feel it won’t be used.”