A Layette for Every Baby? Would That Work in the USA?

BlogHer Original Post

Babies are expensive, even without an addiction to onesies and falling prey to all of the fancy baby gear gadgets on the market today.

All of this "grandmother" blogging has me extra-focused on baby layettes, which is probably why three people sent me the link to Annie PhD's post, A Layette from the Government. This is an interesting topic, whether or not you're a parent or soon-to-be-grandparent -- and I can't decide which side of the idea I'm on.

Layette Set

I remember being a young mom and getting just a few freebies from the hospital and military support groups when my babies were born. It was nice to get ANYTHING extra at all -- who doesn't like a cute t-shirt or receiving blanket or crocheted blanket? Well, I didn't because a crocheted baby blanket just wasn't all that useful in the Philippines. On the other hand, the aspirator sent home with all of my babies came in handy, (this was also not something I had thought to buy with any of my pregnancies). Then again, the free pacifiers went straight into the trash. Freebies aren't a good idea unless they're useful freebies, right?

The government provided layettes in Finland do seem to include items that most parents would find useful but...

A new government program would mean more tax dollars to create and manage the program. Which means there would be new government contracts, which means more tax dollars to pay contracts (and probably more corruption). Would a layette program like the one in Finland, or the family leave programs and child/family stipends in other European countries, really make a difference?

Last fall, I read a book called Bitter Bitch. It is about a woman who lives in Sweden, has a baby and pretty much falls apart. During the course of the book, she rants long and hard about the patriarchy, (which is apparently alive and well in Sweden, even with all of the financial stipends and parental leave opportunities for both parents).

What I remember most from the book is that while they do offer great benefits and support to all parents, great benefits didn't solve all of social issues that I am known to rant about. While fathers have the option of taking family leave, in 2011 only 23% of fathers took advantage of the opportunity to stay home.

Then again, the infant mortality rate in the United States is almost double that of Finland, and Sweden's is even lower. We're clearly doing something wrong.

And, as I watched my daughter open her virtual shower gifts on Saturday and pondered what might be left to buy after her in-real-life shower on Sunday, I found myself thinking once again that this government layette thing would be really awesome...

What do you think?

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Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

Baby clothes and accessories photo via Shutterstock.


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