Scotland’s Childcare and Early Years Minister Mark Mcdonald has defended the baby box scheme amid claims they was no evidence that they reduce the chance of cot death.
Aberdeen Donside MSP Mr McDonald insisted the Scottish Government boxes have safety accredition, and that comments made by the Lullaby Trust should not have linked the government boxes to ones readily available on the shelves.
The baby boxes scheme, which provides families with essential items for a new-born up to the age of one as well the box itself to sleep in, was first piloted in Aberdeen at the beginning of this year, and this summer more than 6,500 new north-east mothers will receive them.
The news comes as Scottish Labour unveiled proposals to include breastfeeding equipment in the new boxes.
Mr McDonald, who campaigned for the roll out of the boxes, yesterday defended the initaitive while visiting Kirkhill Primary School, Kincorth.
During the visit, where he saw parents sharing the children’s activities at nursery as part of the 2 Stay, Play and Learn early years scheme, Mr McDonald said: “The comments made by the charity appear to be about off the shelf boxes that are commonly available. They are in no way related to the Scottish Government baby boxes and I would hate for confusion to arise from that.
“The charity has no footprint in Scotland and has not been involved in the consultation over the baby boxes. We have been in discussion with the Scottish Cot Death Trust.
“The baby boxes have British safety standards accreditation at a crib and is the first non-commercial baby box that does.”
A similar scheme has been running in Finland where the cot death rate is one of the lowest in the world.
Francine Bates, chief executive of the Lullaby Trust, insisted that the Finnish record was due to a variety of reasons, including lower teenage pregnancy rates.
She said: “The fact that they give a box out to every family may be a factor but we can’t say that definitively.”
Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon has written to SNP ministers to call for the pilot scheme to increase the number of new mothers in Scotland who breast feed.
She suggested including a breast pump, nipple shields and cream and a higher quantity of nursing pads, and other products.
She said: “Breastfeeding may be natural, but it is not always easy. The baby box presents a unique opportunity to improve breastfeeding support as part of the aim to provide every child in Scotland with the best possible start in life.