Wiener Wickelrucksack*

*changing backpack

One of the benefits for having a baby in Vienna is the entitlement to the free "Wickelrucksack" which is offered to all parents by the City of Vienna (if you scroll down I've also found some interesting information on the history of the backpack which I've translated). You can pick up this backpack at any of the "Eltern-Kind-Zentrum / Familienzentrum" (Parent-child-centers / family centers) before or 8 weeks after delivery when you present your Mutter-Kind-Pass. These centers offer not only the free backpack but also have a lot of events / activities for expecting and new parents including baby meetups, midwife support, doctors onsite and up-to-date information and support on any questions you might have.

The Husband and I went to the Familienzentrum in the 11th district after picking up our morning coffee and getting on the U3 to Enkplatz. They recently moved there and the building is a very nice and bright with an inner courtyard and big open room for the baby meet ups or check ups if you need them.
We patiently waited as the lady came to meet us and asked if we had any other questions or needed to explain the concept and what is available there as additional services or support. As I had been a couple of times with Little K, I was already familiar "unless anything has changed in the two years?" I asked just to be sure. She said that it was all the same but would give us an updated plan of opening times and their schedule and went to get us our backpack. She handed this over to us with the nice compliment that "we are such friendly and relaxed people, it is such a pleasure to not only have cranky people come in." So, here is a little tip - smile and be nice to them! It definitely seemed to cheer up her morning.

Of course, I have no patience so had a sneaky peak in the backpack on the Ubahn ride home and was excited to see some new things since Little K was born. It is always exciting to open it up and see what you get...

The backpack with the handy changing pad in a sneaky back pocket

The backpack with all its goodies

Freebies included the blanket, nappies, baby wipes, two toothbrushes, disposable bib, Mam bottle and dummy, Weleda baby product samples, Nivea bath / shower sample, little hat, LaseptonMed product samples and wash cloth and a little bear.

The backpack also includes the latest information on what to do after birth and handy forms / information that you might need (such as the Meldezettel). All information is in German so ask a friend for some help if needed.

I was very impressed with what was included and quickly reminded my VFN Baby Group to get theirs. It doesn't fully compete with the Finnish baby box, but the backpack is great! There is a reason why you see so many parents walking around the city with it - it stores so much and even has a handy lined front compartment to keep things cool. Inside there is also a small bag which I've now seen parents use to carry about the sand toys for the kids at the playgrounds...

With two weeks to go, we are slowly getting prepared for Monster 2 to make his appearance! Still gives me some time to prepare some more posts but for the "exciting" things you need to do / can get from the government - that is it for now, next stuff is all after birth (which fortunately the Husband helps out with so maybe he will be a guest blogger for those topics).

Some history about the Wickelrucksack

A concept of such a packet for new parents was introduced in 1927, where expecting mums could go to their local district office to pick up a "Säuglingswäschepaket" (infant clothes packet). With the upcoming financial crisis in the city and the perceived unequal distribution of the packet, the city of Vienna introduced an entitlement restriction in 1933 that if you were able to provide the basic items to your child, you would not be able to collect this packet. This initiative continued until 1934.

After WWII in 1946, it was reintroduced by the American Red Cross to all mothers who lived in the American zone. Later in that year, they expanded the packet to all districts in Vienna. There was the decision in 1948 to officially reintroduce the packet to every Austrian citizen, with residence in Vienna, who went to the district office during their third month of pregnancy and delivered a baby.

Since 1976 there were a few varieties available where mothers could choose between an infant or toddler packet, gender neutral colours and they changed from plastic packaging to cardboard boxes.
The backpack as it is now known was introduced in 2001 and is regularly updated with new content and freebies for the parents-to-be in Vienna.



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