Belgium's baby box has record year

Access to the comments Comments
By Catherine Hardy
Belgium's baby box deals with an increase in abandoned new-borns
Belgium's baby box deals with an increase in abandoned new-borns

2017 was a record year for Antwerp's baby box.

Mothers in the Belgian city can leave their new-borns to be cared for at ATM-style hatch run by the charity Moeders voor Moeders (Mothers for Mothers).

Katrin Beyer from the charity told the UK newspaper The Telegraph that four babies were left in the box in 2017.

When was the baby box set up?

In 2000.

Since then, 13 babies have been found and handed ove to social services for fostering and adoption.

Why are more babies being left?

Local politicians think the increase could be linked to rising poverty and food prices.

However, it is difficult to be certain as the mothers remain anonymous.

The modern incarnation of an ancient solution

Antwerp's baby box is the modern answer to an age-old problem.

Baby hatches were installed in city and convent walls in medieval Belgium and across wider Europe.

"Foundling wheels" or revolving cribs were built into walls of churches and convents in the 18th and 19th century. This meant children could be left anonymously in the care of others.

Are baby boxes used in any other countries?

Yes, Germany and Switzerland operate similar schemes.

However, in the UK it is against the law to abandon a child. As many as 50 a year are abandoned in the country.

Additional sources • The Telegraph