The “baby box” distributed to young parents sows discord

It is not yet born that it is already denied. From this Monday, for the first time, young parents in maternity wards, notably in Arras (Pas-de-Calais) and Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), will be presented with a “parental welcome bag” offered by the government. A kind of “French-style baby box”, according to the Secretary of State by Adrien Taquet, inspired by a model of the “box” created in Finland in 1938, which has since drastically reduced infant mortality in this country, thanks to improvements in hygiene and the comfort of the newborn.

What do we clearly find in the French bag, which will initially affect 77% of French maternity wards, located mainly in rural areas and priority urban areas, until next August, before being extended to the whole territory?

It will be filled with “symbolic items,” according to the government, such as a sleeping bag (also called a “sleeping bag,” a type of baby sleeping bag commonly recommended to prevent cot death during sleep up to their two years), but also a Natural soap for children, a bib, a youth album and a moisturizer for mother. “These few everyday objects of a young parent are so many invitations to engage in practices that benefit the child’s safety, health and development,” we propose Adrien Taquet’s Secretary of State for Family and Early Childhood. All these products are manufactured and transported in France by companies that employ workers with disabilities or in the process of integration – with the exception of the youth album.

“What’s in that bag for men?” »

But. In recent months, many women have reacted, especially on social networks, to make fun of the contents of this bag. In particular, the presence of a women’s moisturizer intended to remind mothers that it is important to take care of themselves arouses the ire of feminist organizations.

“It must be recognized that some will undoubtedly be very happy to have this cream, which is generally an expensive product and some cannot afford it,” admits Amandine Hancewicz, President of the Association of Parents and Feminists. But it can also be felt as a request to return to your previous body, which is very awkward. First of all, this bag is a bandage on a deep wound. It looks more like a government communications strategy than a genuine public policy of long-term support for women. Also, what is in this bag for men? Once again, the message is being sent that parenthood is primarily a woman’s job,” she says angrily.

“There is a disconnect between government marketing and the urgent need for human support that women feel during this very delicate postpartum period,” criticizes Fabienne Lacoudre, specialist in gender issues related to parenting and founder of the media Milf Media. At least the Finnish box was a kind of outfit for newborns with clothes, diaper supplies, and parents found financial interest in it. But what should we think of the symbolic objects of the French bag? They are very poorly chosen,” she condemns.

The state secretary responsible for family had also announced that in 2022 a “systematic survey would be introduced around the fifth week after birth” to identify postpartum depression. It has not yet been implemented, but should take place “before the summer of 2022”, according to the ministry.

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