Welcome baby: Montreal to give out free boxes of items for families with newborns

Montreal will give out boxes of free toys and baby supplies to every family in the city with a new infant starting next year.

The so-called "welcome baby" boxes will be available in 45 city libraries as of Jan. 1, 2024, for newborns, new arrivals and adopted children up to one year old.

The colourful boxes will contain 12 items from local vendors with a total value of $200, including a blanket bearing the city of Montreal logo, a bath towel, a pair of pants, a picnic blanket, a pool diaper, a rattle, a silicone bib, a stuffed animal and a toothbrush.

City Councillor Despina Sourias, the Montreal executive committee special advisor for the status of women, diversity, youth and seniors, explained that many of the items are meant to represent city amenities, such as pools and parks, of which families can take advantage.

The purpose of the program, she said in a phone interview, "is really to welcome babies and ensure that they're connected to the city and all the services that we have."

"I believe that the city plays an essential role in family lives," she continued. "So it's really a way of connecting all this together."

In a statement, Mayor Valérie Plante expressed hope the boxes will encourage families to settle in Montreal and that the gifts foster a sense of belonging among children.

The baby box program fulfils one of the mayor's campaign promises before her re-election in 2021 to a second four-year term.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 22, 2023.

The Canadian Press