THE box element of the SNP’s baby box scheme is the item least used by parents, the Scottish Government’s own research has found.

Almost half of first-time parents said they had no intention of using the heavy-duty cardboard container as a crib for their newborn, as ministers had hoped.

However there was a very high level of satisfaction with the box's contents, such as thermometers, clothes, books and bedding.

Piloted in January and rolled out Scotland-wide in August, baby boxes are a Finnish idea designed to give children the best start in life by providing parents with essential items.

The Scottish Tories have criticised the £8m scheme as an SNP “vanity project”, while the government's poverty advisor has questioned if they are the best use of public money.

To inform future procurement, the government commissioned research on parents’ views.

Published today, the survey of 204 parents found 35 per cent had used the box as a bed, another 27 per cent said they intended to, while 38 per cent had chosen to snub it.

The most common reason for not using it was parents already buying or being given a crib, while one in 12 said they didn’t want to see their child in a box full-stop.

Some said they didn’t want to put it on the floor with pets around.

The box was the least used item, followed by condoms, baby wraps and maternity pads.

However overall feedback was “extremely positive”, with almost 100 per cent satisfied with the quality and variety of contents.

The most popular items were the poem Welcome Wee One by the Makar Jackie Kay and information on safe sleeping, with thermometers deemed the most useful.

Parents suggested newborn nappies and breastfeeding equipment should be added to boxes in future.

Childcare minister Maree Todd said: “It’s great to hear how positive parents are about the Baby Box.

“I am also pleased to see that the majority of parents are using the box as a safe sleeping space and that the main reason for not doing so is because they already had an alternative.

"I hope that as more parents know to expect the box they will no longer need to buy an alternative in advance.”