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HEALTH

What goods can parents receive in a French ‘bébé box’?

The French government is launching a new policy in February whereby parents of newborn babies will receive a 'bébé box' of essentials, plus items for the mother and something to aid the 'artistic and cultural' development of the new arrival.

What goods can parents receive in a French 'bébé box'?
Parents of newborns will receive a 'bébé-box' (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Many European countries distribute baby-boxes – packages full of baby essentials – to the parents of newborns. 

The idea was conceived in Finland in 1938 – mothers would be sent a box in the post prior to their due date. Inside were things like blankets, bathing products, baby clothes and nappies. Once the goods are removed, the box could be used as a crib. The scheme greatly reduced infant mortality. 

France is set to launch its own version of the baby box, or bébé box (plural bébés box), in February 2022. Confusingly though, it is not a box at all, but rather a bunch of good wrapped in a sling. And it will not be delivered to mothers prior to giving birth, but rather handed out to new parents in maternity wards after the baby is born. 

Initially, this scheme will be rolled out for parents in poorer areas of the country (zones prioritaires) and neglected rural areas (zones de revitalisation rurale). It will eventually be rolled out nationwide at the cost of tens of millions of euros per year. 

So what will parents actually receive? 

Various media reports have provided hints as to what will be included in the French bébé-box

In October last year the Children’s Minister, Adrien Taquet, told the Huffington Post that a special sleeping bag for babies, known as a turbulette, would be included. 

“There is less risk for a baby sleeping in a turbulette than in something that could cover their face. And they should sleep on their back,” he said. 

Parents will also receive a bib, soap and a booklet containing tips on how to care for their child during the first 1,000 days.

“We want to include an object specifically for the mother to allow her to tell herself that she should take care of herself too – maybe a cream or something like that,” said Taquet back in October. 

This measure was widely mocked on social media as being insufficient in meeting the needs of mothers who have just given birth – particularly those suffering with postnatal depression.

The Huffington Post initially reported that the box contain a children’s book. Other media outlets have reported that a musical album may be offered instead. This, according to government sources cited in reports, is to encourage the “artistic and musical awakening” of the newborn – a “fundamental” step for brain development. 

Le Monde report that 180,000 bébés box will be delivered by August 2022.

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FOOD & DRINK

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

Children in nine European countries, including 81 in France, were affected

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

More than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market over salmonella fears leaving a dent of tens of millions of euros, a company official has told France’s Le Parisien.

Nicolas Neykov, the head of Ferrero France, said the contamination came “from a filter located in a vat for dairy butter”, at a factory in Arlon in Belgium.

He said the contamination could have been caused by humans or raw materials.

Chocolate products made at the factory in Arlon, southeastern Belgium, were found to contain salmonella, resulting in 150 cases in nine European countries.

Eighty-one of these were in France, mainly affecting children under 10 years old.

The factory’s closure and the health concerns were blows to its owner, Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, coming at the height of the Easter holiday season when its Kinder chocolates are sought-after supermarket buys.

“This crisis is heartbreaking. It’s the biggest removal of products in the last 20 years,” Neykov said.

But the company hoped to be able to start up the factory again, with 50 percent of health and safety inspections to be carried out by an approved “external laboratory” in the future, instead of the previous system of only internal reviews.

“We have asked for a reopening from June 13 to relaunch production as soon as possible,” he added.

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