Parents with babies born last year and this year can expect to receive baby gift sets from the Government - in a move that will cost it up to $3.45 million.
The People's Association (PA) has awarded the contract to produce the items to Noel Gifts International, which was also the vendor for the SG50 Baby Jubilee Gift for Singaporean babies born in 2015.
From this month, 3,000 gift sets - each worth $50 - will be distributed at community events in a pilot phase, according to tender documents seen by The Straits Times.
There will be three versions. The authorities will seek feedback this month and next month on which is most popular. Up to 66,000 units of it may then be produced for the other eligible parents, to be given out from July until March next year.
The latest preliminary figures released in February showed that 33,161 Singaporean babies were born last year.
Each gift set will have three items (see sidebar). The most significant item will be a "memorabilia item" that "represents the journey and growth of a family" and should be "treasured as a keepsake for the family".
When asked for more details on the items, Noel Gifts said it was unable to comment. It announced last Friday on the Singapore Exchange website that it had won the contract.
PA also declined to say what exactly the items are, saying only that it "constantly seeks new initiatives to bond our communities and celebrate families", and more information will be given in due time.
But in the tender documents, it said the gift sets will be presented at community events for people "to come together to celebrate parenthood and help parents strengthen their bonds and create shared experiences with their children".
The Baby Jubilee Gift worth about $200 was given for Singaporean babies born in 2015, in celebration of Singapore's 50th year of independence. It was a small suitcase with eight items, including a medallion, a baby sling and a set of baby books.
While experts and parents said the gifts would have little impact in encouraging couples to have children, the gesture is appreciated.
A NICE GESTURE
The SG50 gift set was quite well-received, so I think Noel Gifts won't come up with items that are going to be just chucked away. I see the latest gift sets as a nice gesture from the Government, a way of encouraging parents and saying 'thank you for having that baby'.
MRS JONI ONG, president of I Love Children, a voluntary welfare group advocating early parenthood.
Mrs Joni Ong, president of I Love Children, a voluntary welfare group advocating early parenthood, said: "The SG50 gift set was quite well- received, so I think Noel Gifts won't come up with items that are going to be just chucked away. I see the latest gift sets as a nice gesture from the Government, a way of encouraging parents and saying 'thank you for having that baby'."
As for whether the $3.45 million could have been put to better use, sociologist Paulin Straughan said: "Some may see it as a waste of money. But we buy gifts for each other at an individual level, so I see this as the Government representing the community - with taxpayers' money - to extend appreciation to parents."
Parents said they welcome such gifts. Housewife Khoo Hui Ing, 36, has two children, including a two-year-old who received the SG50 gift set. She said: "I used the baby clothes. The set is quite useful, and it is good to have something memorable for the child to keep."
Pre-school teacher Ng Mingzhu, 32, who has a daughter born last May, stands to benefit from the latest gift set. "I hope the items would be practical, but I am thankful for the gift set anyway," she said.
•Additional reporting by Shaffiq Alkhatib
What the gift set will contain
The gift sets for Singaporean babies aged six to 24 months will have three items, according to tender documents seen by The Straits Times. They each will have:
•An "educational item" that encourages parents to spend time with their babies and help them learn through play activities. One possible example given is a family of six characters made of flannelette to encourage parents to engage in story-telling sessions.
•An "interactive item" that encourages parents to bond and communicate with kids.
•A "memorabilia item" that represents the journey and growth of a family. It will be the "most significant" in the set and should be "treasured as a keepsake for the family".
Among other stipulations, the items should be presentable (clearly visible by the audience when being presented on stage), meet safety standards and be of good quality. They should also be "culturally sensitive" - suitable for all races and religions, and gender neutral. Overall, the gift set will be convenient to carry, and the items would be such that they can be seen through the packaging "for more visual appeal".