NICOLA Sturgeon has revealed SNP plans to follow Finland by providing a baby box for all newborns in Scotland.

The box would contain essential items such as bedding, clothing, a sleeping mat and books, while the carton itself could double as a basic cot.

The Finnish state tradition of giving new mothers a baby box has been credited with lowering the country's infant mortality rate.

A similar scheme in Scotland would cost around £100 per box, or £6 million a year.

Ms Sturgeon said a fair start for every child is a key pledge of the SNP election manifesto.

At the document's launch on Wednesday, the party will also commit to recruiting an extra 500 health visitors by 2018.

The First Minister said: "At the heart of the baby box is a message about fairness and opportunity that is also at the heart of our manifesto.

"Our manifesto will set out how we will improve equality, address poverty and create opportunity for all our children.

"We pledge to provide all families with the essentials that every child needs over the first weeks and months of life.

"The baby box - as well as a practical support package for newly born children - has been shown in other countries to encourage expectant mothers to take up antenatal care at an earlier stage, contributing to reduced infant mortality and lower stillbirth rates.

"It will be a universal benefit to help us to tackle inequalities in Scottish society and close the attainment gap between the poorest and richest children."