SCOTTISH firms are to be given the chance to bid for the contract to provide items for baby boxes.

The invitation to tender for the second year of the scheme will open in early 2018, providing opportunities for firms including small and medium-sized businesses.

Childcare and early years minister Maree Todd made the announcement as she visited a distribution centre in Edinburgh where the first boxes of the new year were being prepared. Deliveries will resume today.

Baby boxes, containing essentials for newborns including clothing and bedding, are available to all expectant mothers. The Scottish Government introduced them across the country in August.

Todd said: “It feels very special to be packing up baby clothes, thermometers and other useful items for some of our first newborns of 2018.

“After a very successful first year in 2017, with 77 per cent take-up, more than 22,000 boxes delivered and high parent satisfaction with the contents, we want to continue to build on this in 2018.

“Now the baby box scheme is more established, we can start to develop the economic as well as the social benefits.

“I very much hope Scottish businesses will embrace the opportunity to bid for the contract to provide some of the contents of Scotland’s baby box next year.”