Scotland's Baby Box: parents' view on contents

Research gathering parents' views on Scotland's Baby Box and the items provided to inform re-procurement of its contents.

Executive Summary


Scotland’s Baby Box scheme, where parents receive a box containing various clothing and equipment items for their new baby, was rolled out to include all babies due in Scotland from 15 August 2017 onwards. The Scottish Government required research to inform re-procurement of the Baby Box contents for the period from November 2017, and commissioned Progressive Partnership to undertake this research.

Aims and objectives

The aim of the research was to inform decisions about which items to include in the box for the re-procurement by gathering parents’ views on the items and how they have used/will use them. Specific research questions focused on: use of the items in the box; the quality and presentation of items in the box; alternative items to be included; the information included on safe sleeping and breastfeeding; communications about the scheme and use of the Parent Club website.

Key findings

This survey provided data about parents’ views of the Baby Box and its contents.

Overall, feedback was extremely positive, with high levels of use of all items included in the box and positive ratings in relation to their usefulness. Satisfaction levels were extremely high in relation to the quality, presentation and range of contents.

Most respondents could not think of any items that were missing from the box, but among those who did, the most common suggestion was newborn nappies. When prompted, the most popular suggested additions were a second sheet for the mattress and vouchers for reusable nappies.

Findings were generally consistent across the sample, with very few differences observed in relation to SIMD, first time vs experienced parents, age of parents, or socio-economic groups.

Detailed research findings

Respondents were asked which of the items in the Baby Box they had used for their new baby, and interviewers recorded which items had been used, which were going to be used in the future, and which items respondents did not intend to use [1] .

Use of items in the Baby Box

Just over six in ten respondents said they had used (35%), or planned to use (27%), the box as a sleeping space; four in ten (37%) said they did not intend to use the box as a bed. The most used bedding item was the cellular blanket: 97% had either used it or planned to use it. Use of the fitted sheet (85% used or planned to) and mattress protector (74%) was also relatively high.

The main reason for not using the box as a sleeping space was that respondents had already bought something similar (74%), or received it already as a gift (12%). Eight per cent of those who did not intend to use it as a bed said they did not want their baby to sleep in a box.

All clothing items were very popular. Actual use so far depended on the age range the clothes were designed for, but the proportions using/planning to use each item were very high, ranging from 90% to 98%. The clothing items with the highest proportion saying they did not intend to use them were: scratch mittens for newborns (10% did not intend to use); long-sleeved side buttoning vest for newborns (8%); and the cotton hat for 0-3 months (8%).

All of the equipment included in the box was also very well used. The items with the highest proportions reporting they had used/planned to use them were the muslin cloth squares and baby books (both 100%), the hooded bath towel, bath sponge and bib (all 99%).

The items with the highest proportion saying they did not intend to use them were: the box of 3 condoms (19% did not intend to use); baby wrap/sling (15%); pack of 12 maternity towels (13%) and pack of disposable nursing pads (11%). The main reason for not using equipment was that people had already bought these items (30%). Respondents who did not intend to use the baby wrap/sling were asked if another type of carrier would be useful, but very few could think of alternatives that they would have found more useful.

Ratings of items used

Ratings of all the contents used were very high – the percentage of people (among those who had used them) who said they had found items either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ useful were:

  • Equipment: 99% (83% said very useful)
  • Clothing: 98% (76% said very useful)
  • Bedding: 92% (65% said very useful)
  • Baby wrap/sling: 89% (74% said very useful)
  • The box as a sleeping space: 88% (64% said very useful).

The most popular items in the Baby Box overall were the bath/room thermometer (32% said this was the most useful item), the ear thermometer (22%) and the baby wrap/sling (15%). The main reasons for selecting items as being useful were the fact they were easy to use/helpful to parents, they use them regularly, and/or that they didn’t have or wouldn’t have thought to get the item themselves.

Use and ratings of information provided

Proportions of respondents who reported that they had read/planned to read each type of information provided in the Baby Box were:

  • A poem for your wee one (97%)
  • Information on safe sleeping (93%)
  • Information on postnatal depression (88%)
  • Information on breastfeeding (84%).

Among those who had read the information, 83% said the safe sleeping information was very or quite useful and 76% said the breastfeeding information was very or quite useful. Where ratings were less positive, this tended to be because people had already received the information from elsewhere, for example from their midwife.

Overall satisfaction

Reflecting the high levels of use and ratings of contents, overall satisfaction levels were extremely high. The proportions saying they were either very or quite satisfied were:

  • Overall quality of box and contents: 100% (95% were very satisfied)
  • Range of items included: 99% (97% were very satisfied)
  • Presentation and design of Box: 99% (95% were very satisfied)
  • Delivery arrangements: 99% (92% were very satisfied).

Very few respondents identified any issues with quality. The most common problems identified related to the quality of the maternity pads (mentioned by 5%) and problems with the thermometers: two people had faulty bath/room thermometers and one had a faulty digital ear thermometer.

Proposed additions to the Baby Box

When asked spontaneously what, if anything, was missing from the Baby Box, most respondents (69%) could not think of any suggestions. The most common request, made by 10%, was for newborn nappies to be included. When prompted, the most popular ideas were a second sheet for the mattress (67% said this would be very or quite useful), or vouchers for reusable nappies (62%). There was less support for additional information to help support breastfeeding (respondents tended to say ‘neither/nor’ for this suggestion), although a substantial minority (44%) would find additional equipment to help with breastfeeding very or quite useful – examples included nipple cream and breast pumps.

Communications about the Baby Box [2]

Respondents were asked how they had first heard about the Baby Box scheme: initial awareness was most likely to have been a result of hearing about the scheme on the news (41%) or from a midwife (30%). A further fifth mentioned online sources (21%). Recall of the specific communications received was not particularly high: nine in ten remembered receiving a leaflet at their first midwife appointment, but fewer mentioned the Baby Box leaflet despite it being in the box (61%) and just over half mentioned the registration card (53%). However, among those who did recall communications, ratings were high. The information leaflet from the midwife was rated as being most useful.

Very few respondents suggested improvements to communications about the Baby Box scheme. The most common request was to receive information about the Baby Box contents earlier in the pregnancy, to avoid purchasing items that were going to be provided (although only 4% suggested this).

The Parent Club website

A fifth of the sample (20%) had visited the Parent Club website, 25% were aware of it but hadn’t used it, while 54% had not used it and were not aware of it. This level of use is in line with what was expected. Very few of those who had visited the website could identify information that was missing or suggested additional content for the site.


Recipients of the Baby Box are extremely pleased with the current contents and there are no obvious areas that need to be addressed or improved. Consideration could be given to:

  • The quality of maternity pads included in the Baby Box (this was the most frequently identified issue with quality, although it was mentioned by only a small proportion of respondents)
  • Ensuring the quality of all thermometers, and/or making it clear who to contact for a replacement if there is any faulty equipment in the box.
  • The inclusion of newborn nappies, and equipment for breastfeeding such as breast pumps and nipple cream.
  • Although the baby wrap/sling was not among the most used items, it was judged to be among the most useful by those who had used it, suggesting that an item of a similar specification would be valued by parents. Those who did not intend to use it also found it difficult to suggest alternatives that they would have found more useful.
  • Use of the Parent Club website was as expected at 20%, but if this site is being used as a primary mechanism for communication about the Baby Box scheme then additional promotion may be required to reach a greater proportion of parents.

Research method and sample

The research was conducted using a semi-structured Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing ( CATI) survey. The questionnaire consisted mainly of closed questions, with some follow-up questions to collect more detailed qualitative feedback where relevant. The sample was drawn from a database of parents who registered for a box provided by the Scottish Government.

The survey achieved a good sample size of 204. The sample included a range of NHS Health Boards and SIMD quintiles, reflective of the sample database and the Scottish population. Respondents were mainly female, and tended to be aged 25‑29 or 30‑34. Half the sample were first time parents; half had other children.


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