Finland is really good at keeping babies alive. Here's one reason why.

FACT: Parenting is really hard. Finland knows how to make it slightly easier.

I have two children. Keeping them alive is something I haven't failed completely at. Yet.

They both are still totally functioning. I haven't scarred them too badly. I think.


She's still alive today, three years later.

When you have your first kid, things can feel overwhelming.

Once you realize that this little person is really in your life, things can get pretty real.

Me trying to make sure that my kid survives Christmas. He is also still alive, six years later.

But Finland has figured out a way to make that first year of baby survival easier. A baby box.

As the BBC reported, it's a pretty simple thing. A cardboard box you can put your baby in. Seriously. They started doing it back in 1938 for low-income families who couldn't afford cribs.

Did I say put a baby in there? I did. Photo by Annika Söderblom/Kela.

As long as the mother goes to a prenatal visit within four months of becoming pregnant, the family is given a choice. They can choose either a stipend or the baby box (and the stipend goes up when you have twins or triplets). And 95% of Finnish families go with the baby box.

Yeah, that's right. They put their babies in it.

A baby in a box (with a tiny mattress), sleeping comfortably and not peeing on you. YET. Image by Milla Kontkanen.

How helpful is the box really?

It's kind of a big deal. Back in the '30s, Finland had an extraordinarily high infant mortality rate. Then they brought out the boxes to support low-income families. They were a game changer.

The U.S. has over double Finland's infant mortality rate, particularly among low-income families. (Man, imagine if we did this.)

It's not just a box, either. It's a box filled with a surprising amount of stuff.

It comes stocked with all kinds of goodies. Clothes in different sizes to last the first year of a child's life. Reusable diapers. Bibs. A thermometer. A baby book. Even condoms so you don't accidentally have another one too quickly.


The contents of a baby box, aka everything you need to make sure your baby has a good start when they start barfing on you. Photo by Annika Söderblom/Kela.

AND as a bonus, the clothes are all gender-neutral colors. So they can be passed down to the next kid, regardless of their gender.

It's become a thing people look forward to and celebrate.

Then when they get their baby boxes, they party.

Future Finnish parents who haven't been broken yet by the unrelenting psy-ops campaign their adorable offspring will soon be unleashing upon them. Photo by Miika Niemelä.

You can learn more about the baby boxes via this MSN video.

Can you imagine if every baby, in every country, regardless of their parent's wealth, got the same starter kit?

Now that's something to drool on your bib about. Read more at the Finish agency's website.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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