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What you should know about raising children in Norway

What you should know about raising children in Norway
Photo: Picsea on Unsplash
Children in Norway are a big deal. In fact in 2018 Prime Minister Erna Solberg urged Norwegians to have more. Here's what you need to know about the Norwegian culture of bringing up kids and the practical and financial help you can receive.

Support during and after pregnancy

Having a child in Norway is made comfortable for expectant mothers. You can be assigned to a midwife if you prefer that to seeing your regular GP. The hospital stay during birth or for any other pregnancy-related complications is also free of charge. Nursing tutorials and extra guidance is provided right after the birth, and mothers receive an at home visit from a nurse after returning from the hospital to help with any concerns.

New mothers are also encouraged to stay social by being invited to join mothers groups in accordance to where they live and with other women who have given birth around the same time. In the larger cities, baby reading, singing, and swimming classes are also regularly scheduled and affordable. 

The helsestasjon  

After a child is born and registered to the Norwegian social welfare system they are well looked after.

All major cities and most towns have a facility called the helsestasjon. Directly translated, it means “health station”. It is in fact a community health care centre for children up to five years old. The centre arranges at-home visits, free vaccinations, free annual check-ups, and typically has an open-door policy one day a week in case a caregiver needs to talk with a doctor or a healthcare professional.

“I loved visiting the helsestasjon when my son was born,” says mum Elena Misko. “It was so convenient, and it was also a place I could easily chat with other people that were at home with newborns caught in the ‘baby bubble’.”

Work-family life balance

Norway has a flexible work culture that suits parents to both have full-time jobs and still be present for their children.

It is not uncommon for work days to end between 3pm and 4pm so mothers and fathers can pick up their children from pre-school and eat dinner together as a family. Along with their own authorised sick days, parents are also granted a set amount of days to stay home with their children if they were to become ill.

“I remember so well when my seven year-old came down with a series of back to back illnesses a few years ago” says Misko. “I felt so guilty constantly having to call my boss to let her know I couldn’t come in. She was nothing but understanding and encouraged me to take as many days as I needed to be with him.”

Companies also acknowledge special one-off occasions like a child’s first day of school by allowing the parents to take the whole day off. And it’s usually never an issue if parents need to leave early to take their kid to any health-related appointment. 

Barnetrygd 

On top of a generously long and paid maternity and paternity leave, the government also provides parents with monthly stipends in an effort to make sure they are getting the necessities they need for their families. These stipends are called barnetrygd or ‘children’s allowance’. Single mothers and fathers are also permitted an extra amount of money for children up to three years old.

“I had know idea about this allowance until after I had my first born and suddenly noticed the extra money in my account,” says Norway-based mother Renate Bane. “I couldn’t believe it. Not only could I walk out of the hospital after giving birth with no bill. But then I came to discover the government was depositing money in my account for having a kid!”

The payment comes automatically every month in one of the parents bank accounts and is paid per child. So if you had three children you would be given an allowance from the government for each of them. The monthly allowance is paid out until a child turns 18. 

Barnevern 

If you have multiple kids in Norway, that’s considered fantastic! But the Norwegian society is also set up to make sure they are taken care of. Norwegian child welfare services, or barnevern, have many available resources and there is no stigma over reaching out if you need help with a situation. Barnevern is a separate entity from the public school system in Norway, but they work closely together. 

Full time childcare is affordable

Full-time childcare can put a huge dent in your monthly income. “My older brother and his wife chose to become a single income household so one of them could stay home in order to save money on childcare,” says Bane. “That’s not an unusual decision in the United States.” 

In Norway,  preschools can only charge a maximum of 3,230  kroner (€314) a month per child for a spot in full time daycare or preschool. This price often covers a daily lunch at the school as well. 

Healthcare for children

Yes, healthcare for everyone is affordable in Norway, but this is especially true for children up to 16 years old. They are fully covered by the Norwegian Health Economics Administration (HELFO). And like a child’s equal right to education, access to quality health care is also made as open as possible throughout Norway. Norwegian children are the healthiest in the world, according to this survey from Helse Atlas. This could partly be due to the health cares systems accessibility and affordability, from pretty much the time of conception. 

Nearly free higher education 

University is nearly free and doesn’t require a savings account or load of debt. Although students can apply for a loan with impossibly low interests rates for spending money during the time they study. This allows parents to not have to stress about saving for their child’s education from an early age. Norway’s youth have freedom to choose the route of education they truly want to pursue, and not have to base their decision on what is more affordable. 

With the financial burden of university relieved, many Norwegian parents have chosen to replace the popular “college fund” with a “house fund” for their children instead. This plays a large role in why many young adults already own real-estate. 

Useful vocabulary and facts

In Norway, the quality of preschools is controlled at national level. It is the government’s responsibility to oversee all development and management of public preschools. So even if you are living outside of a major city or fall into a lower income bracket, you can expect your child to have the same level of care as all other children. 

Some 92.2 percent of all children between the ages of 1-5 attend preschool in Norway. 

Norway pursues a zero-tolerance stance on bullying. The government has invested a lot of time and money in recent years on anti-bullying campaigns. And the Directorate of Education has set up a site here to find out what children and parents can do if bullying is a problem.

barselgruppe – maternity group

hjemmesykepleier – a nurse who makes home visits

skole – school

barne – children

høyereutdanning – higher education 

mobbing – bullying 


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