NSW parents-to-be: There’s more than a baby on the way…

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Expecting a baby in 2019? If you live in New South Wales, your bundle of joy isn’t the only arrival headed your way this year.

As part of the NSW Government’s $157 million parenting package, parents and caregivers will receive a Baby Bundle worth $300 for each newborn baby. That’s right—if your bub arrives from 1 January 2019, you’ll get a gift pack when you’re discharged from hospital.

Approximately 96,000 babies were born in NSW in 2018. Based on those figures, the Government expects to distribute about 50,000 Bundles in the first half of 2019. The initiative is expected to continue each year, though the contents will be reviewed after six months following the results of a survey.

Let’s look at what’s included in the Baby Bundle, who is eligible, and why the government has launched this initiative.  

What’s in the Baby Bundle?

Each Baby Bundle is exactly the same, which means no special requests about size, colour, or brand. The products in the Bundle were chosen to reflect NSW Health policies, and were sourced from five Australian-owned businesses.

The Baby Bundle items have been deemed safe for newborns and meet Australian safety standards. The entire Baby Bundle weighs 2.5 kilograms.

The bundle includes:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Play and change mats
  • Muslin wrap
  • Bath and room thermometers
  • Baby toothbrush
  • Breast pads
  • First aid kit
  • Board books
  • Face cloth
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Barrier cream
  • Printed NSW Health resources

The Bundle also includes a ‘Blue Book,’ also known as ‘My Personal Health Record’. This is a booklet where parents can record details of their baby’s health and development, such as vaccination records or illnesses. The Bundle comes in a tote bag with a special pouch designed to hold the Blue Book.

The Baby Bundle will be assembled and distributed by Sydney-based Civic Disability Services. Accepting the Bundle is voluntary and there is no cash alternative.

Who is eligible for the NSW Baby Bundle?

The eligibility criteria are straightforward: your baby must be born in 2019 and you must live in NSW. Parents and caregivers, including adoptive and foster parents of babies up to the age of three months, are eligible. Parents of multiples are eligible for multiple Bundles, one for each baby.

The Bundle will be given out when you are discharged from one of 87 public and private maternity hospitals in NSW.

Not giving birth in hospital? If you live in NSW but your baby is born at home, you can request your Baby Bundle when you register your baby at Births, Deaths and Marriages. It will then be delivered for free to a nominated NSW address.

For babies born interstate or overseas, parents who live in NSW can email MOH-BabyBundles@health.nsw.gov.au to request their Bundle.

Baby Bundle background

In June 2018, the NSW Government announced the Parents Package, intended to help reduce some of the initial costs of having a baby, as well as provide resources and support to parents.

The Baby Bundle makes up $7.6 million of the Parents Package. The Parents Package also includes the following:

  • Increased midwife numbers: Funds to add 100 more midwives across the State
  • Increased home visits from nurses: Expanding the NSW postnatal visit program
  • Investment in paediatric precision medicine: $5 million to help treat genetic disorders like child cancer
  • More regional family care centres: Five new family care hubs in Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Dubb, Taree, and Queanbeyan.
  • Specialist mental health services: For pregnant women with mental illness
  • Upgraded facilities: Better hospital play spaces for children with medical equipment or mobility challenges
  • Expanded newborn screening: Screen for a wider number of diseases
  • Maternal transfers: More support for safe transfers of pregnant women needing special care
  • Updated information booklets: Provide up-to-date information to those thinking of having a baby and information on reducing the chance of stillbirths.

Outside of the Parents Package, the NSW Government also directed $11.5 million of the Budget for improving facilities at St George Hospital. The delivery suite and birth centre will be co-located and the older operating theatres refurbished.

As with any government initiative, this one is not without controversy. Some people argue that the funds would be better spent elsewhere, such as towards medical services. Others say that the bundle is more beneficial for first-time parents, and should be means-tested.

The Parents Package was developed to help support new families at a time that is exciting but also overwhelming—both in terms of cost and emotions.

Although these initiatives may face some backlash and growing pains, they ultimately can help ease the transition into becoming a new family. More importantly, they lay the foundation for promoting positive health outcomes as the baby grows up.

As all parents can attest to, having a healthy baby is a priority, and the Baby Bundle is intended to help achieve that goal.

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